Coronavirus cancels South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas

South by Southwest conference


The South by Southwest music, film and technology conference, is the latest victim of the coronavirus. 

The conference was canceled Friday, with officials calling it a medical and data driven decision.

SXSW, as it’s known, had vowed to go on, despite recent developer conferences that were canceled by Facebook and Amazon.  

The conference this year had several high profile speakers in place, including former presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton, Beto O’Rourke and Andrew Yang and Steve Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell Jobs and rockers Ozzy Osbourne, director Judd Apatow and to Kim Kardashian West. Nearly 300,000 people attended in 2019.

The 10-day festival was set to begin March 13.  

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South by Southwest conference

Festival organizers had been saying for days that they wouldn’t cancel, on the advice of local officials, who assured them that the Austin health department had approved. 

Many companies had pulled out of SXSW, including Twitter, Facebook, Apple, IBM and Netflix and there’s been much local debate about the organizer’s decisions to continue. 

Beyond the losses to the festival, Texas Monthly points out caterers, ride-hailing drivers, bartenders and servers, tech crew and security staff, and many other rely on SXSW, the biggest event of the year in Austin, to pay their bills. 

According to the Austin Statesman, public health officials had said that canceling the conference didn’t make sense, because many of the people who already made travel arrangements were likely to come to Austin anyway even if it SXSW was called off.


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