The International, the largest Dota 2 esports event of the season, will not feature a live audience in 2021. The event will still begin on October 7 in Bucharest as planned, but due to the situation surrounding COVID-19 in Romania, tickets for audience members will be fully refunded.
The current start date and location of The International 2021 were not part of the original plan. The tournament was supposed to take place in Sweden, but the rescheduling came after the Swedish Sports Federation voted not to accept esports into its federation. As a result, The International would fall outside of the classification of a premier sporting event in Sweden, and therefore, work visas for TI 2021 may not have been approved.
As a result, TI 2021 was moved to Bucharest, Romania and scheduled to start in October, but after evaluating the continuously rising COVID-19 rates in Romania, as well as Bucharest's new local restrictions, the refunding of all ticket sales and removal of a live audience from the event was the measure taken to ensure the safety of all players, talent, and production staff participating in the event.
While a lack of a live crowd at TI 2021 may be disappointing, an empty arena is still a leg up from last year. The International 2020, which was supposed to be held in Stockholm, Sweden, was rescheduled to 2021 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the current situation.
The announcement, which was published on the official DOTA 2 website and then Tweeted via the official DOTA 2 account, was made public on October 2nd, only five days before the start of The International 2021. While full refunds have been issued, many ticketholders planning to attend took to social media to express frustrations about their travel and lodging plans and the potential ability to get a refund for any logistical expenses less than a week after the event.