SXSW Canceled Due to Coronavirus Outbreak

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Travis P Ball/Getty Images for SXSW Guests at ‘South By Southwest’. 2019

The cancellation follows numerous tech giants pulling out in recent weeks due to similar concerns about the spread of the virus.

SXSW has been canceled due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler announced during a press conference Friday afternoon.

The annual event, which brings together the film, interactive media and music industries, was previously scheduled to take place between March 13 and 22 in the city.

Adler said he had declared a “local disaster in the city” that had effectively canceled SXSW. He added that the decision had been made based on the recommendation of Austin’s public heath officer and director of public health given the size and nature of the event, which often features concerts where people are in close contact. Travis County, where Austin is located, does not have a confirmed case of the virus, known as COVID-19.

SXSW organizers confirmed the cancellation in a statement on the event website, writing, “SXSW will faithfully follow the City’s directions.”

The statement continues, “We are devastated to share this news with you. ‘The show much go on’ is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place. We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation.” Organizers also said they were exploring options to reschedule the event, which was expected to draw more than 200,000 people, and were working to offer an online experience for 2020 participants.

The cancellation follows many companies choosing not to participate this year as a safety precaution, including Netflix, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, WarnerMedia and Amazon Studios.

In announcing their cancellations, several companies cited concerns over the spread of the virus, which has resulted in 3,000 deaths worldwide and affected over 90,000 people in numerous countries. Though little is known and a vaccine is not currently available, coronavirus causes the virus, which involves flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough and respiratory trouble.

Among the emergency responses throughout the U.S. so far, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency over the threat Wednesday following the death of an affected elderly person in Northern California.

Scheduled speakers at SXSW had included Damon Lindelof, Lulu Wang, Stephen Colbert, Hillary Clinton, Samantha Bee, Chip and Joanna Gaines, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Kenya Barris. The festival was due to screen 102 films including Judd Apatow comedy The King of Staten Island and medieval drama The Green Knight.