June 18, 2024

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Coronavirus cancellations: From E3 to the 2020 NBA season, a list of events hit


A new coronavirus is spreading.

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The novelcoronavirus continues to wreak havoc in industries around the world, from tech to sports to music. Many companies have shut factories and banned business-related travel, and major industry events like Facebook’s F8, the Geneva Motor ShowGoogle I/O and Mobile World Congress continue to be called off because of the outbreak

The E3 gaming show, which had been scheduled to start in LA on June 9, was added to that list on Wednesday, the same day the WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic. Other cultural events like the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival and the Ultra Music Festival in Miami were also postponed. New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art on Thursday joined a growing list of institutions temporarily closing in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.  

COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, emerged in the Wuhan region of China’s Hubei province late last year and has symptoms similar to those of pneumonia. It was first reported to the World Health Organization on Dec. 31, with Chinese scientists linking the disease to a family of viruses that includes SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). The disease has killed more than 4,700 people, and more than 127,000 people have been infected around the world. 

Here’s how the outbreak is affecting some of the biggest names and events in tech, sports and entertainment.


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  • Announced it’s “recommending” all Seattle, Puget Sound area and San Francisco Bay Area employees who are “in a job that can be done from home should do so through March 25.” Company president Brad Smith also said it’ll continue to pay its hourly campus workers their regular wages even if their work hours are reduced.
  • Warned investors that revenue in the business segment that includes its Windows operating system and Surface devices would likely miss earlier forecasts.







  • Will allow guests to cancel reservations without penalty if they’ve booked in China through April 1.
  • Offered a new program called “More Flexible Reservations” that allows travelers to cancel eligible reservations without being charged, and requires hosts to refund the reservation regardless of any previous contracted cancellation policy. Airbnb’s service fees for trips booked through June 1 will be refundable with travel coupons.


  • Temporarily suspended roughly 240 user accounts in Mexico to prevent the spread of coronavirus after those users had come in contact with two drivers possibly exposed to the virus.
  • Announced any driver or Uber Eats delivery person who’s diagnosed with COVID-19 or is individually asked to self-isolate by a public health authority will get financial assistance for up to 14 days while the account is on hold.
  • When ordering Uber Eats delivery, customers now have the option of leaving a note in the Uber Eats app asking the delivery person to leave the food at the door, rather than have an in-person transaction.
  • Created a support team to help public health authorities in their response to the epidemic. The company said this team may temporarily suspend the accounts of riders or drivers confirmed to have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19.
  • Strongly recommended employees to work from home in several countries where the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing, including the US, Canada, Japan, Europe and South Korea. The recommendation extends through April 6.


  • Encouraged employees at its San Francisco headquarters to work from home after one team member was found to be “in contact with someone who was exposed to COVID-19.”
  • Has partnered with EO Products to distribute more than 200,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies to drivers. The company also said in mid-March that it would “provide funds to drivers should they be diagnosed with COVID-19 or put under individual quarantine by a public health agency.” 


  • Closed its new plant in Shanghai for a planned week and a half after the Chinese government told private companies to temporarily cease operations.
  • Warned investors that the shutdown may “slightly” affect first-quarter profits.



  • IBM tweeted March 9 it’s encouraging employees who live and work in New York City or Westchester County to work from home until further notice if their job permits. Both areas are subject to coronavirus community spread.



  • Cloudflare is offering its Cloudflare for Teams, a suite of security tools, to small businesses affected by the coronavirus for free for six months. It’s also helped launch in an industry effort, called OpenforBusiness.org, to support small companies.
  • The company is letting employees in affected regions work remotely.



  • Discord is easing the limit on its Go Live streaming service from 10 people at a time to 50, so teachers can conduct classes, co-workers can collaborate and groups can meet remotely. 
  • This will last for “as long as it’s critically needed,” CEO Jason Citron said in a blog post. He also warned that demand for the service is likely to surge, and it may suffer performance issues.

Tech Industry events

Several prominent industry events were canceled or revamped because of concerns over the coronavirus. They include:

  • Facebook’s March marketing summit and its its F8 developer conference.
  • The Geneva Motor Show, one of the largest car shows of the year, after the Swiss government banned all events of 1,000 people or more.
  • The annual Adobe Summit in Las Vegas. Instead the company says some content will be offered online.
  • Google I/O, the company’s biggest event of the year, where the tech giant announces its newest products and initiatives.
  • Chipmaker Nvidia decided to make its GPU Technology Conference, typically held in San Jose and attracting an audience of about 10,000 people, a digital-only event with a webcast planned March 24.
  • Snap, the parent company of messaging app Snapchat, has decided to make its annual Snap Partner Summit an online-only event with a keynote scheduled for April 2.

Also, the annual Game Developers Conference, originally scheduled to take place March 16 to 20 in San Francisco, has been postponed to an unspecified date after exhibitors such as Amazon, Microsoft, Epic Games, Sony, EA and Facebook dropped out. 

The annual cybersecurity RSA Conference took place as scheduled in late February in San Francisco, but major exhibitors like IBM, Verizon and AT&T Cybersecurity backed out. 

SXSW, which was slated to take place in March, was also cancelled earlier this month

Sporting events

Cultural events and institutions

Theme parks

  • In February, Disney temporarily closed its theme parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong due to the coronavirus. The move was estimated to cost the company nearly $175 million. 
  • On Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom and state public health officials called for canceling or postponing gatherings with 250 or more people until the end of March, as part of an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. The move doesn’t apply to situations like school attendance, work or essential public transportation. In a press conference, Newsom said the move doesn’t include Disneyland. 

CNET’s Corinne Reichert, Ben Fox Rubin, Jackson Ryan, Shara Tibken, Lynn La, Sean Szymkowski, Dara Kerr, Queenie Wong, Oscar Gonzalez, Dan Ackerman, Stephen Shankland, Chris Paukert, Erin Carson, Edward Moyer, Sean Keane and Abrar Al-Heeti contributed to this report. 

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