Austin city officials have canceled the South by Southwest arts and technology festival.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler announced a local disaster as a precaution because of the threat of the novel coronavirus, effectively cancelling the annual event that had been scheduled for March 13-22.

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, the county’s top elected official, said no one in the Austin area has been found to have the COVID-19 virus. However, South by Southwest was expected to have drawn an international audience into close quarters, posing a serious threat of contagion.

Festival organizers said in a statement that they were “devastated” by the necessity of the move.

“’The show must 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 working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation,” the organizers said in their statement.

The organizers noted that Austin Public Health had stated as recently as Wednesday that “there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer.”

“However, this situation evolved rapidly, and we honor and respect the City of Austin’s decision,” the organizers said.

The announcement comes days after several high-profile companies, including Netflix, tech news outlet Mashable, video-based social media platform TikTok and U.S. chip maker Intel, pulled out of the festival.

More than 50,000 people had signed a petition seeking to get the festival cancelled.

Actor Kumail Nanjiani, who had been scheduled to attend the festival to promote “The Lovebirds,” said he was disappointed but that he understood.

“Sxsw is one of my favorite festivals,” he tweeted. “Canceling it was the responsible thing to go. I know this sucks for many people for whom this was a massive opportunity. But we’re kind of in an unprecedented situation here and caution is key. Thank you for the making the right decision.”

The festival drew 73,716 attendees last year, 19,166 of whom came from outside the U.S. Combined with SXSW’s gaming expo and education conference, the 2019 event drew 417,400 attendees, organizers said. An economic impact report found it contributed $355.9 million to the local economy.

In recent weeks, movie releases, film festivals, concerts and other events involving public crowds and international travel have taken a hit from the spread of the COVID-19 respiratory illness. From “The Amazing Race” and “Sonic the Hedgehog” to SXSW and Hong Kong Disneyland, here’s a rundown of what’s been affected by the coronavirus around the world.


Chinese exhibitors will not attend CinemaCon 2020, the movie industry’s annual trade show, in Las Vegas. The event is set to take place as planned March 30-April 2 at Caesars Palace, though organizers are enhancing “health and sanitation” measures for the convention and maintaining “daily communication” with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the CinemaCon website.

San Francisco’s 2020 Game Developers Conference, a professional gathering for interactive industry members set for March 16-20, has been scrapped after multiple participants pulled out. Microsoft, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Facebook Gaming, Unity, Amazon and Activision Blizzard were among the top gaming companies that canceled.

MIPTV 2020, a March 30-April 2 global content conference in Cannes, France, has been canceled. Related events that were scheduled to take place March 28-29 have also been nixed.

The 2020 Thessaloniki Documentary Festival in Greece, originally set for March 5-15, has been postponed. Organizers are considering rescheduling the event for the end of May or beginning of June, according to the festival’s website.

Saudi Arabia’s inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival has been postponed indefinitely. The event was scheduled to run March 12-21.

Venice’s famed Carnival, which had been set to run Feb. 8-25, ended prematurely on Feb. 19.

FILMART 2020, the Hong Kong International Film & TV Market, will now be held Aug. 27-29 instead of the originally scheduled stretch in late March. It is the most significant film market in Asia.

DC, the home of Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman and more, will not send staffers to comics conventions in March. The company says it will assess attendance at conventions case by case.

With COVID-19 hitting hard in Washington state, Emerald City Comic Con organizers decided Friday to move next week’s event to the summer. Refunds will be issued and details about the rescheduled Seattle event are forthcoming.


Almost all movie theaters in mainland China — accounting for 70,000 screens — have been shuttered. Theaters in Milan, Italy, including the iconic La Scala, have also been closed.


Flags wave on empty stands ahead of the women’s Biathlon World Cup 7,5 km sprint event in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic, Thursday, March 5, 2020. Due to the coronavirus the Biathlon World Cup will take place without spectators. AP Photo/Petr David Josek

Italy on Wednesday closed “all theaters and cinema” where a 1-meter distance requirement between patrons cannot be accommodated.

The forthcoming release of “No Time to Die,” Daniel Craig’s final film in the James Bond franchise, has been postponed until November, according to MGM, Universal and Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. The movie, previously slated to debut in the U.S. on April 10, will now hit theaters Nov. 25.

China releases for Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog,” Universal’s “1917,” Searchlight’s “Jojo Rabbit” and Universal’s “Dolittle” have been postponed indefinitely. Should precautions related to the outbreak persist, forthcoming titles including Pixar’s “Onward” and Sony Pictures’ “Bloodshot” could also be at risk.

Production on Paramount’s latest “Mission: Impossible” project has been delayed. The action flick, starring Tom Cruise, was set to film on location in Italy, which has seen one of the largest outbreaks outside Asia. The seventh film in the franchise hits is scheduled to hit theaters in July 2021.

Major movie studios in China, including Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis and Hengdian World Studios, have shut down operations. The Chinese government has put an indefinite halt on all film production in the country.

After learning that one of its London employees might have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, Sony Pictures Entertainment closed its offices for a week in London, Paris and Gdynia, Poland. Employees were asked this week to work from home.


BTS, Green Day, Khalid, New Order, Pentatonix, Stormzy, Mariah Carey, Avril Lavigne, Louis Tomlinson and Testament are among the many music acts who have called off or postponed tour dates and performances in Asia, Italy and Hawaii.


A man wearing a mask looks out from a decoration promoting a movie in Beijing, China on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

The Philharmonic Society of Orange County canceled a Shanghai Chinese Orchestra concert in Costa Mesa last month, despite all of the musicians being in good health. A Chinese New Year celebration was scheduled to take place Feb. 5 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

The 18th Korea Times Music Festival, set to take place at the Hollywood Bowl on April 25, has been postponed “due to current travel restrictions in Asia,” organizers said. Ticket refunds are available.

The Ultra Music Festival, a massive Miami-based electronic music event, has been pushed back. The three-day concert, which draws 165,000 fans from across the globe, will likely be moved from this month to 2021.

The Tomorrowland Winter 2020 electronic-music festival, set to run March 14-21 at a ski resort in the French Alps, has been canceled by organizers after the French government banned all indoor gatherings of more than 5,000 people. Tomorrowland Summer 2020 in Belgium was still on the schedule for July.


The 33rd season of the Emmy-winning TV show “The Amazing Race” has ceased filming indefinitely and “all contestants and production staff are returning home,” according to a statement from CBS. No new production date has been set for the popular reality travel competition.

The 16th season of ABC’s “The Bachelorette,” starring 38-year-old Clare Crawley, will no longer shoot episodes in Italy, according to Variety. Filming internationally has not been ruled out entirely.

Comcast’s FreeWheel and Fox News pulled out of their annual advertisers upfront presentations scheduled for March 12 and 24 in New York City. Fox Entertainment reportedly canceled program development presentations scheduled for New York, Chicago, Detroit and LA during the last week of March.

Disney has scrapped a two-day launch event for its new streaming platform, Disney+. The rollout was set to take place on the Thursday and Friday leading up to the service’s March 24 European debut; it will now be replaced by an executive press briefing via webcast next week.


Universal Studios Japan has closed from Feb. 29 to March 15, with the reopening date subject to change depending on the coronavirus situation.

Disney’s themed resorts in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo have been shuttered until at least March 15. In a recent earnings call, the Mouse House estimated the closures would result in a roughly $175-million hit to operating income in its second fiscal quarter, should the parks remain shut down for two months.


The London Book Fair 2020, which was scheduled for March 10-12, has been nixed. Around 25,000 publishers, authors and agents were expected at one of the world’s biggest international literary events.

The 2020 Livre Paris Book Fair, which attracts 160,000 annually and was scheduled for March 20-23, has been canceled in accordance with France’s new indoor-gatherings policy.

The Bologna Children’s Book Fair, which had been set for March 30-April 2, has been moved to May 4-7. The event in Bologna, Italy, typically draws 1,400 exhibitors and 30,000 professional visitors.


Museums in Italy that can accommodate a 1-meter distance requirement between patrons have been allowed to stay open, but attendance is down dramatically.

The Louvre in Paris shut down for a few days after employees walked out, demanding further protections against the virus, but it reopened Wednesday.

The National Museum of Korea and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in South Korea, Beijing’s Palace Museum in the Forbidden City and Japan’s Mori Art Museum, National Museum of Modern Art and Kyoto National Museum are among closures in Asia.

Museums (and theaters) in the Los Angeles area are operating as usual unless they hear otherwise from public health authorities but are more aggressively cleaning and disinfecting facilities and coming up with plans in case the virus spreads further.


Performances at La Scala in Milan have been suspended through April 3, with the box office closed through March 15.

New York’s Metropolitan Opera on Tuesday mandated a 14-day self-imposed pre-show quarantine for all performers and staff traveling to New York City from China, Iran, South Korea, Japan, Italy and Hong Kong

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