SXSW festival canceled due to coronavirus concerns

The South by Southwest festival has been canceled due to coronavirus concerns, according to Austin Mayor Steve Adler.

The city of Austin declared a local disaster and canceled the annual gathering in the Texas capital. Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said the decision was “medical and data-driven.”

The festival will follow the city’s direction, organizers said.

“We are devastated to share this news with you,” SXSW organizers wrote in a statement. “‘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.”

A number of high-profile attendees, including Twitter, had pulled out of the event prior to the announcement.

On Austin mayor cancels SXSW festival over coronavirus concerns

SXSW, which draws more than 200,000 people from across the globe, was scheduled to begin on March 13 and end March 22.

More than 55,000 people signed a petition calling for the music, film, and tech extravaganza to be canceled amid the global outbreak.

SXSW estimated that in 2019 its impact on the Austin economy totaled nearly $356 million. More than 55,000 people reserved hotel rooms that year, and attendees to the event came from 106 countries.

Coronavirus concerns have prompted the cancellation of dozens of events worldwide, including the Ultra Music Festival in Miami.

Dr. Mark Escott, the Austin interim health authority, said that Travis County has no confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Escott compared the growing threat of coronavirus to a hurricane looming in the Gulf. He noted that authorities examined options to decrease the threat at SXSW, but they ultimately decided there was no path forward — except for cancellation — that would mitigate the risk enough to protect the community.

The festival risk assessment was based on its size, events with close contact like concerts, and registered guests from international and domestic locations with evidence of person-to-person spread.

Mark Dunphy is a breaking news reporter and general assignment writer. Read him on our breaking news site,, and on our subscriber site, | [email protected] | @m_b_dunphy

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