Two of the world’s largest gatherings have been canceled as the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues its global spread. Austin’s South By Southwest (SXSW) media conference and Miami’s Ultra Music Festival have been called off as both cities face the growing impact of the virus.
Local officials made the calls on Friday to postpone the events amid public health and safety concerns. Days earlier, festival organizers and city officials maintained that both gatherings would go on as planned, albeit with heightened safety measures put into place.
“We are devastated to share this news with you,” SXSW organizers shared on the festival’s 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.”
The statement went on to say that while Austin Public Health previously dismissed the notion that canceling the event would not make the community safer, the situation “evolved rapidly” and the festival is honoring the city’s decision to call off the event, originally scheduled for March 13-22.
“We are committed to do our part to help protect our staff, attendees, and fellow Austinites. 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.”
Meanwhile, in Miami, Mayor Francis Suarez informed residents that both Ultra Music Festival and Calle Ocho Music Festival have been axed amid safety concerns.
“This decision is not cause for alarm or panic,” Suarez told local media. “These preventative actions represent our commitment to always put our residents’ well-being first.”
Calle Ocho – a massive entertainment showcase in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood – was originally set for March 15. Bayfront Park was slated to host Ultra Music Festival March 20-22 and draw thousands of attendees from over 100 countries. The three-day EDM bash will now take place March 26-28, 2021.
“Due to the Florida Governor’s declaration of a public health emergency and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s Interim Guidance for COVID-19, it is impossible for the City to provide access to Bayfront Park at this time,” Ultra Music Festival organizers shared in a statement. “We completely understand how extremely frustrating this is because so many of you are looking forward to coming to Ultra, having already made travel arrangements. This is, however, an unprecedented issue which is not being taken lightly, and we must continue to defer to the authorities for guidance.”
The prominent cancellations are the latest in a growing string of live events altered in the wake of COVID-19. Several artists across the globe have postponed or canceled tour dates, while California’s Indian Wells tennis tournament became the first major U.S. sporting event to be canceled over health and safety concerns.
To date, there have been more than 100,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide.