SXSW 2020 Canceled Amid Coronavirus Fears

The city of Austin has officially canceled SXSW. The annual music, film and interactive festival, which is held during the month of March, had already faced a number of big names pulling out due to concerns over the coronavirus, and now the city has effectively pulled the plug. The decision was announced via live stream over the city's website on Friday afternoon.

"Based on the recommendation of our public health officer and our director of public health, and after consultation with the city manager, I've gone ahead and declared a local disaster in the city. Associated with that, I've issued an order, that effectively cancels SXSW for this year," said Mayor Steve Adler. He later called the decision "scientific" and "health-based."

"It's really unfortunate to cancel SXSW," he concluded. "I look forward to the next iteration when it comes back for us."

SXSW addressed its first-ever cancellation not long after Mayor Adler's statement on their own website.

"We are devastated to share this news with you," the statement read. "'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."

In the days leading up to the announcement, a number of tech companies had canceled their planned events, including Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and LinkedIn. Additionally, Netflix, Amazon, Apple TV+ and HBO all pulled their programming this year as well -- all of them citing concerns over the potentially fatal disease.

Thursday night, Ozzy Osbourne also announced he wouldn't be attending. The 71-year-old metal icon was slated to appear along the rest of the Osbourne clan to promote the A&E special, Biography: The Nine Lives of Ozzy Osbourne, which is slated to air on the cable network sometime this summer. Osbourne has already admitted to being in "unbelievable pain" because of his Parkinson's and released a statement explaining his decision.

"Following recent cancellations by major corporations, artists, record companies and studios because of the ongoing threat of the coronavirus, Ozzy Osbourne has likewise decided to cancel his upcoming appearance at SXSW," read the statement, according to Variety.

While most of the noteworthy cancellations had impacted SXSW's interactive and film aspects, on Friday, music industry giant BMI also tweeted out they'd be canceling their music slate as well.

SXSW was started back in 1987 as a means for the city of Austin to generate some business for venues that were suffering during spring break. In the years since, it incorporated additional elements, including film, technology, education, sports and comedy, becoming one of the most prominent festivals on the planet.


Prior to today's announcement, SXSW had attempted to address attendees' concerns about the coronavirus on their website.