Both SXSW and Emerald City Comic Con will no longer take place this March.
Amid growing concerns over the spread of the coronavirus in Washington state and elsewhere in the United States, Emerald City Comic Con organizer Reedpop announced Friday that the annual event will be postponed until the summer. It was originally set for next weekend, March 12-15, in Seattle.
Hours later, after Austin Mayor Steve Adler declared a state of emergency in the city during a press conference, SXSW organizers announced that they will honor the wishes of city officials and cancel the annual film, music, and tech festival for the first time in more than three decades.
"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 of this writing, no cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Austin, though some have been confirmed in the Houston area. Adler called the local emergency declaration a "data-driven decision" based on ongoing Covid-19 developments in the United States and around the world. In a statement posted to the SXSW website, organizers said they are "exploring options" to reschedule the festival and create some form of virtual experience online for participants.
Numerous studios and companies — including Twitter, Amazon, WarnerMedia, and more — had already announced plans to withdraw from SXSW 2020 in the days before the City of Austin's announcement.
In a statement posted to the Emerald City website, organizer ReedPOP said the decision came after "many hours" of internal conversation and "consultation with local government officials and the tourism bureau." A more detailed announcement of exactly when the event will now be held will arrive later, but for now we know that one of the biggest conventions of the year — attracting almost 100,000 fans and numerous major creators and publishers every spring — will be put on hold for several months.
"Our hearts go out to the entire Seattle community, everyone impacted by the COVID-19 virus, and all of you, the nearly 100,000 amazing human beings who look forward to this event each year," the statement read. "Our team was incredibly excited to see you at Emerald City Comic Con next week, however, fans, artists, exhibitors and the rest of the community are what make ReedpPOP events so special and it is our duty to make sure that your safety comes first."
ReedPOP also announced that anyone who purchased tickets to attend ECCC will receive a full refund in the coming weeks with no further action needed on the part of customers. Organizers also noted that, due to high volume, refunds may take up to 30 days.
Washington state has been hit particularly hard with Covid-19 in recent weeks, with nearly 80 confirmed cases and 14 deaths as of this writing. In recent days numerous individual creators have announced they would no longer attend ECCC, and major publishers including both DC and Dark Horse Comics announced earlier this week that they would also back out. ReedPOP's decision to postpone the convention is the latest move by major events organizers across the United States to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
We'll have more on the future of SXSW and ECCC 2020 as well as other Covid-19-related cancellations and postponements as we hear it.