I suppose it was never really in doubt, but it was heart-warming, nevertheless, to see tens of thousands of cardiologists arrive in Barcelona days after a deranged van driver turned its most famous street, La Rambla (or Las Ramblas) into a scene of blood-soaked carnage.
More than 31,700 delegates from 153 countries attended the ESC Congress – Europe’s largest meeting of heart specialists – in a show of defiance, solidarity, and ‘getting-on-with life’ that summed up the international meetings industry and its ability to ride the waves of mayhem.
Just think about it for a moment:153 countries. Another 39 and the entire world would have been represented! All those people coming together to spread knowledge and make things a little better. Against all that, how puny – how wickedly futile – appear the actions of those nihilistic young cowards with delusions of grandeur who we have chosen to call ‘terrorists’.
Grand sporting occasions are often feted for bringing people together. And, yes, for a while, it’s easy to forget about existential power struggles when you’re watching a thrilling sprint to the finish! Scientific meetings, like ESC Congress, don’t have the same universal appeal as the Olympics, obviously, but they contribute to the betterment of mankind in ways rather more tangible than someone tossing the hammer.
Cynics who reckon conferences are ‘a bit of a jolly’ might want to study one of the 4,515 abstracts that were submitted to the ESC Congress, or examine the results of numerous clinical trials that were presented in session, many of which made the front pages of national newspapers.
Did you know, for example, that marriage can boost the survival rates of heart attack patients? Or that fat people are less likely to have complications following heart surgery? Or that common painkillers may boost blood pressure in arthritis sufferers? Many more stories were filed by the hundreds of journalists at the five-day meeting - bringing medical science to the people.
In times like this, when the world seems to be suffering a collective nervous breakdown, it’s good to remember that every day, tens of thousands of people are getting together to move things forward. Those working in the meetings industry - convention bureaux, meeting planners, venues, association management companies, caterers, audio-visual firms – are the people who make it
AMI editor James
Lancaster is a familiar face in the meetings industry and international
association community. Since joining AMI in 2010, he has gained a reputation
for asking difficult questions and getting lost in convention centres. Proofer, podcaster, and panellist - in his spare time, James likes to walk,
read, listen to music, and drink beer.