SXSW festival canceled amid coronavirus outbreak

(Reuters) – South by Southwest (SXSW) music and tech festival in Austin, Texas has been canceled over growing concerns related to the coronavirus outbreak, event organizers, city and county officials said on Friday.

The health risks were too great to allow the event to go on, the officials said at a press conference, citing the close proximity of people at concerts.

There are no confirmed coronavirus cases in Austin, and “it is not a panic decision”, Travis county judge Sarah Eckhardt said.

Over the past few days, a number of companies had already pulled out of the annual festival, which was scheduled between March 13 and 22.

The companies that canceled plans to attend the festival include AT&T’s WarnerMedia, Netflix, Apple, Amazon Studios, Facebook and Twitter.

The global spread of coronavirus, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, has wreaked havoc on businesses and forced a number of organizers to postpone or cancel some major industry events.

Some of the conferences that have been canceled include Google’s I/O and Facebook Inc’s F8.

The city of Austin recorded a benefit of $355.9 billion as a result of the SXSW festival in 2019, according to an estimate by the event’s organizers.

Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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