SXSW attendees. 


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Organizers of the SXSW conference and festivals pulled the plug on the annual gathering in Austin, Texas, amid concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19)

“Based on the recommendation of our public health official and director of public health and after consultation with our city manager I’ve gone ahead and declared a local disaster. And along with that issued an order that cancels SXSW this year,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said. 

Officials noted the size and scale of the event with close person-to-person contact. 

SXSW, which started in 1987, drew in about 417,4000 attendees in 2019. According to the event’s demographics report,  26% of SXSW goers came from a total of 105 different countries outside of the US. The event spans topics including film, music, digital branding and marketing, environmental sustainability, science and technology, to name a few, and typically stretches out through two weekends.

The decision comes after other notable events have been canceled or reduced under similar concerns. GSMA, which puts on the mobile phone industry event Mobile World Congress in February in Barcelona, Spain nixed the trade show for 2020. Facebook also opted to not to hold its developer conference, F8, scheduled for May. 

So far, the coronavirus has infected more than 82,000 people and claimed over 3,000 lives. The illness first came to light on New Year’s Eve and originated in China’s Hubei province. Cases have been reported in other countries as well, including South Korea, Japan and Italy.  

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