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SXSW cancelled as coronavirus continues to spread

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Another technology conference has been cancelled amid fears of the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The city of Austin in Texas, which hosts the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference, confirmed it has cancelled the March dates of the annual event, with organisers saying they will faithfully follow the city’s directions.

SXSW, a conference about tech, music and marketing, was scheduled to take place from 13 to 20 March.

“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.

“As recently as Wednesday, Austin Public Health stated there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer. However, this situation evolved rapidly, and we honour and respect the City of Austin’s decision. We are committed to do our part to help protect our staff, attendees and fellow Austinites.

“We are exploring options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU. For our registrants, clients and participants, we will be in touch as soon as possible and will publish an FAQ.”

The coronavirus outbreak originated in the central city of Wuhan in December, with the number of cases globally surpassing the 100 000 mark as of 7 March, according to the World Health Organisation.

Almost 500 cases have been confirmed in the US, including 19 deaths, reports CNN.

SXSW joins a string of big tech events to be cancelled in recent months as fears of the deadly coronavirus intensify.

Global mobile technology conference Mobile World Congress was cancelled last month. Most recently, Google also called off its I/O developer event this year. Google I/O serves as an opportunity for the search engine giant to announce new products and features.

Meanwhile, TwitchCon also announced that after monitoring and weighing the potential risks of the coronavirus to its community, it has reached the “difficult decision” to cancel its Amsterdam event.

TwitchCon, which brings together streamers to play games, watch e-sports and hang out with friends, was meant to take place from 2 to 3 May.

It says in a statement: “TwitchCon is the best weekend to be a Twitch fan. To say we’re disappointed you won’t be able to enjoy the show we’ve been building for you is a massive understatement. But the health and safety of our community, employees and everyone else who has a part in making TwitchCon happen is, as always, our top priority.

“Anyone who purchased a ticket will be refunded the full amount of your TwitchCon ticket.”

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