Austin Cancels SXSW 2020 Over Coronavirus Concerns

The festival will abide by the city's decision, but is "devastated"

Why This Matters

That Austin canceled such a massive music/media event so soon after SXSW promised to remain open shows how bad the public health crisis is considered to be.

SXSW Banner in Austin
Getty Images

Another in a long line of recent in-person events and conferences to go dark due to Coronavirus fears, SXSW has been canceled not by its organizers but by the city of Austin itself.

Quick change: Noting that just two days ago the Austin office of public health said that closing any gatherings wouldn't make the community any safer, SXSW planners still will "honor and respect the City of Austin's decision. We are committed to do our part to help protect our staff, attendees, and fellow Austinites."

This will be the first time in 34 years the music, tech, and media event will not happen.

We will be in touch as soon as possible and will publish an FAQ

The big picture: SXSW's cancellation follows other high-profile conventions as they closed their doors to their own annual conferences recently. Google canceled its big developer conference, I/O a few days before this, Facebook shut down its plans for it's own developer conference, F8, while the Mobile World Congress canceled its global event back in February. San Francisco's Game Developers Conference was postponed to possibly this summer.

Heck, even James Bond's latest outing has been pushed to November to avoid poor attendance over virus fears.

What they said: "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," wrote event planners, "starting with SXSW EDU. For our registrants, clients, and participants we will be in touch as soon as possible and will publish an FAQ."

The bottom line: Whether the Coronavirus will prove to have as much an impact as our worst fears or not, people are legitimately concerned. Sure, tons of companies, individuals, and local economies who had expensive plans for SXSW and other in-person events will be negatively affected, but it seems prudent to keep massive group meetings to a minimum until things are more settled.

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