Tech

SXSW canceled due to coronavirus after Austin declares 'local disaster'

Key Points
  • SXSW was canceled after a string of high-profile cancellations including Twitter, Facebook and TikTok.
  • The conference had been scheduled to take place between March 13 and 22.
  • The city of Austin made the decision to cancel the event after declaring a "local disaster."
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SXSW canceled due to coronavirus fears

South by Southwest, the annual tech, film and music conference held in Austin, Texas, has been canceled due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. 

Local government officials announced the update at a news conference Friday afternoon discussing the status of the outbreak and events in the city. Austin Mayor Steve Adler said he had declared a local disaster in the city and issued an order canceling the conference. 

In a statement on its website, SXSW said it would "faithfully follow the City's directions." 

"We are devastated to share this news with you," organizers wrote on the SXSW website. "'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." 

Austin officials said there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Travis County, where Austin is located. But confirmed cases around the world passed 100,000 Friday

In the blog post, organizers did not mention any details about refunds for badges, which range in cost from $1,395 to $1,725.

The conference had been scheduled to take place between March 13 and 22. In recent days, Facebook, Intel, Twitter and TikTok had pulled out of the conference as large corporations limited travel for employees amid the virus outbreak. 

The conference said it had 73,716 attendees in 2019, 19,166 of whom were from outside the U.S. On top of that, many more work and volunteer at the event.

A Change.org petition asking conference organizers to cancel the conference, calling proceeding with plans "irresponsible," had received more than 40,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning. But before canceling, organizers had said they were working with government agencies to ensure safety of the event. 

A slew of other events as of this week were cancelled or postponed, including Google I/O, the Geneva International Motor Show, the Mobile World Congress and Facebook's F8 developers conference.

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