South by Southwest cancelled due to coronavirus

Interactive media festival, South by Southwest (SXSW), is the latest casualty of COVID-19 fears. Just a week before it was scheduled to take place, its organisers have now confirmed the show has been cancelled.

In a statement the organisers said that they were “devastated” and while only a few days ago, host city Austin’s public health team said “there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer”, the “situation evolved rapidly” and they were left with no choice but to “honour and respect the City of Austin’s decision”.

“We are devastated to share this news with you,” the statement said (thanks, Nintendo Life). “‘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 now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation.

“We are exploring options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU. For our registrants, clients, and participants we will be in touch as soon as possible and will publish an FAQ.”

We understand the gravity of the situation for all the creatives who utilize SXSW to accelerate their careers; for the global businesses; and for Austin and the hundreds of small businesses – venues, theatres, vendors, production companies, service industry staff, and other partners that rely so heavily on the increased business that SXSW attracts,” the statement continued. “We will continue to work hard to bring you the unique events you love.”

“We’re sad to see SXSW cancel, but we respect the call and we’re working hard to bring our Sonic Panel content to you all in a new format this April!” tweeted the official Sonic the Hedgehog account, which will now have to reschedule and reformat its Sonic panel for next month.

As Matt reported yesterday, The Pokmon Company has already announced it was cancelling its 2020 Pokmon Europe International Championships “out of an abundance of caution and pursuant to the current recommendations set forth by public health officials”, and coronavirus concerns have also lead to the cancellation of September’s Minecraft Festival, next month’s official Rocket League World Championship, and this year’s TwitchCon, which was due to take place in Amsterdam this May.

Meanwhile, the future of E3 is in doubt after Los Angeles declared a state of emergency due to coronavirus, although the ESA, which organises the event, believes the show will go ahead as planned in June. “The health and safety of our attendees, exhibitors, partners, and staff is our top priority,” it said in a statement earlier this week, “While the ESA continues to plan for a safe and successful E3 show June 9-11, 2020 – we are monitoring and evaluating the situation daily.”

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