Amazon Studios is pulling out of South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival over concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, of which a handful of cases have been confirmed in Texas.
The news comes shortly after Facebook and Twitter backed out of the Austin event over “travel concerns.”
On Sunday (March 1), Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey cancelled a planned interview appearance, and the company is also not running its SXSW House this year. Facebook also confirmed it was not participating at the event due to concerns over travel, and premium music video provider Vevo also cancelled its annual event at the festival, to be held March 13 to 22.
SXSW released a statement Monday (March 2) that it was “working closely on a daily basis with local, state and federal agencies to plan for a safe event.”
“As a result of this dialogue and the recommendations of Austin Public Health, the 2020 event is proceeding with safety as a top priority,” the organization continued.
A Change.org petition calling on SXSW, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Austin Public Health and Texas Governor Greg Abbott to cancel the event has reached more than 40,000 signatures. On Tuesday (March 3), the CDC reported 60 cases across the country and six deaths.
The festival isn’t the only U.S.-based gathering to contend with coronavirus. Fox announced Tuesday (March 3) it would no longer be participating in the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference today (March 4). The “decision was made out of an abundance of caution due to evolving public health concerns regarding COVID-19,” the company said in a statement.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sanberg and David Wehner, CFO, were also originally scheduled to participate in the San Francisco media conference but announced Feb. 28 the executives would no longer be participating, also due “an abundance of caution related to the evolving public health concerns associated with COVID-19.”
In Europe, where cases have surged in recent weeks, events such as the annual MIPTV content marketplace in Cannes have been left in the balance.
On Wednesday (March 4), Reed MIDEM parent company Reed Exhibitions cancelled the London Book Fair, scheduled to take place March 10 to 12, “following the escalation of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Europe.”
“The effects, actual and projected, of Coronavirus are becoming evident across all aspects of our lives here in the UK and across the world, with many of our participants facing travel restrictions. We have been following UK government guidelines and working with the rolling advice from the public health authorities and other organizations, and so it is with reluctance that we have taken the decision not to go ahead with this year’s event,” the event organizer stated.
Reed Midem, organizer of MIPTV, has yet to release information as to whether the event, set for March 30 to April 2, will be postponed or cancelled following a recent ban imposed by the French government on gatherings of more than 5,000 people.
With files from Barry Walsh