The International Permafrost Association has been closely watching the developing situation with the COVID-19 virus in China with the utmost concern for the wellbeing of all our Chinese colleagues. The 12th International Conference on Permafrost (ICOP 2020) was scheduled for 22-26 June in Lanzhou, China. Given the current situation with COVID-19, the ICOP 2020 Local Organizing Committee has concluded that it is simply not possible to host an international conference as planned in 2020. The International Permafrost Association fully understands and supports this decision. The International Permafrost Association and conference organizers are now considering how to organize our future conference activity and will provide further information by 1 April. We thank our colleagues in China for all their work preparing for ICOP 2020, and hope for a rapid solution to this unprecedented situation.