Just like this year's Mobile World Congress and Facebook F8, SXSW 2020 has been canceled amid coronavirus concerns. COVID-19 (the disease's official name) has affected more than 83,000 people in 50 countries to date, with the global death toll at over 2,800 and counting. This has led event planners worldwide to take safety precautions, as they fear large public gatherings could escalate the scale of the outbreak.
It was only a matter of time — Over the past few weeks, SXSW had been adamant that the show would go on as planned, saying that "safety is a top priority for SXSW, and we work closely with local, state, and federal agencies year-round to plan for a safe event." That said, a spokesperson for the conference added SXSW would "continue to monitor the situation." Now it's finally decided to pull the plug.
With the City of Austin calling coronavirus a "local disaster," SXSW had no choice but to cancel the event. Many will be surprised the event wasn't canceled sooner given how many big names had opted not to attend, including Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok.
"We are devastated to share this news with you. '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."
Event organizers released a statement on the SXSW website on Friday announcing the cancellation of the physical event and adding that they're looking at "options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible."
Bring on 2021 — At this rate, it seems like the best (and safest) thing to do would be for every technology conference to get called off, since the spread of coronavirus doesn't show any signs of slowing down.
Apple still has its annual developers conference — WWDC — planned for later this year, but we'll have to wait and see whether that remains the case, especially since Google has canceled its own developer event, Google I/O.