Equestrian statue at the Heldenplatz

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ECR 2021: A perfectly staged online meeting gets going

Originally planned as a physical congress in Vienna, ECR 2021 had to be converted to an online meeting due to COVID-19. That was a challenge. Yet the changed circumstances in no way left the ECR, one of the most important congresses of its kind, unprepared. ECR president Univ.-Prof. Dr.med.univ. Michael Fuchsjäger: "We were fortunate. We knew there might be a virtual meeting and were able to spend months preparing for it. Last year, that was more difficult." After all, ECR 2020 was the first congress in the world that needed to convert rapidly to a virtual meeting. "We succeeded in doing that splendidly. Also because we've been streaming it live since 2013. That experience obviously benefits us now that we have to organize these virtual congresses," says Fuchsjäger. Accordingly, the online meeting will take place as a perfectly staged virtual congress.

Musical greetings from Vienna

A preview of what awaits the more than 15,000 registered participants could be had in February, in the concert hall of the Vienna Boys' Choir. The MuTH served as the location for the recording of the opening ceremony, which will be streamed around the world on March 3. Under strict safety requirements, classical music was recorded over two full days, in order to send a totally Viennese message to the world. Fuchsjäger: "There will an appropriate cultural program of the kind that Vienna is famous for. That means, there has to be entertainment and culture of the highest level, of the highest standard." The details of what awaits the participants remain a surprise. All we can say is this: There will one or two unexpected vocal interludes. And there will be a sea of flowers, as well as the golden glory of Vienna Modernism.

Interactive fitness

The additional content of the ECR is no secret. The "in Focus" program of the ECR deals with topics such as wellbeing, resilience, and the avoidance of stress. Talking about the idea behind it, Fuchsjäger says, "In the 25 years of my professional life, I have noticed that doctors can only do the best for patients, if they too are fit. And not only physically but also mentally." Yoga and qi gong sessions in the morning and afternoon are offered alongside aikido sessions with a strongly interactive character. After a year like 2020, that is more important than ever. "It really was an unbelievable year. It was extremely challenging for us all. But what was nice for me as head of a department and clinical director was that the employees developed a fantastic sense of community. The demonstrated and felt that they can overcome this kind of crisis with shared strength and solidarity," Fuchsjäger describes the positive aspects of this challenging time.

Once around the entire world

Another innovation that will also deliver a whole bunch of interactivity is the Pop-Up World Tour. "In 20 cities around the world, from Perth in Australia to New York in the United States, there will be local scientific sessions and cultural sessions, as well as interviews with personalities from different countries." All this will take place live. According to Fuchsjäger, "That offers a bit of the excitement that only a face-to-face meeting can otherwise offer." Yet despite the diverse technical possibilities, one thing remains clear: "The direct personal exchange and networking options that physical meetings provide are very much on our minds," says Fuchsjäger. Especially with regard to the industrial partners of the ECR, he continues, "Contact with the participants is important to the industrial partners in order to be able to present new devices and technologies. That's why there's a corresponding online format this year in the form of the "Virtual Exhibition"." Suitable contacts can be made in chat rooms and meeting rooms during ECR 2021.

Great anticipation of physical meetings

And even if ECR 2021 passes off as a meeting of superlatives, the anticipation of the next physical edition of the ECR is huge. If conditions permit, there should be a physical "Summer Edition" this year in Vienna. The ECR will be back in its usual format at the Austria Center Vienna (ACV) by March 2022 at the latest and is sure to thrill visitors. Fuchsjäger say, "Vienna is one of the most beautiful cities there is. For 200 years, Vienna has proved that it is the best congress city. Vienna is still dancing." And why is that? "We have the greatest culture, we have an incredibly exciting and rich history. The gastronomy and hotel sectors are unique. Vienna is easily accessible. Vienna is extremely safe, which is why Vienna has served as a congress city for this particular congress for decades," Fuchsjäger describes Vienna's special attributes. The participants of the ECR really appreciate this: "Our guests spend years planing to come to Vienna every year in March."

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