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SXSW canceled as tech and entertainment world faces coronavirus

An attendee rides a scooter past the Austin Convention Center at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference and festivals in Austin, Texas

(Reuters) - The South by Southwest music, technology and film festival in Austin, Texas, was canceled on Friday, adding to a growing list of events being suspended around the world over concerns about the spreading coronavirus outbreak.

Known as SXSW, the annual showcase of pop culture had been scheduled to run March 13 to 22. Organizers and local officials said at a news conference that they had concluded it was unwise to draw crowds of people together in close proximity with the number of coronavirus cases rising around the world.

The novel coronavirus has spread across more than 90 countries. No cases have been confirmed in Austin.

"It is not a panic decision," Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said of the cancellation.

SXSW began 33 years ago as a music festival but evolved to also highlight technology, video games, TV shows and movies. It has become a major promotional event for media and tech companies and last year attracted more than 417,000 people, organizers said.

Apple Inc, Netflix Inc, Facebook Inc and others had pulled out of the festival in recent days, ramping up the pressure to scrap it entirely.

The spread of coronavirus, which has infected more than 100,000 people worldwide and killed more than 3,400, has sent ripples throughout the media, music and technology businesses.

Earlier this week, Comcast Corp's Universal Pictures postponed the global release of James Bond movie "No Time to Die," originally scheduled for April, to November. And the Ultra Music Festival, one of the world's largest dance music festivals and set for this month in Miami, was canceled.

Other big U.S. events that have been scuttled include two developer conferences planned for May in California's Silicon Valley - Facebook Inc's F8 conference and Alphabet Inc's Google I/O conference.



(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru and Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)