Even More Convention Disruptions in 2020 – Coronavirus Outbreak

C2E2 Convention Disruptions

Convention disruptions due to the Coronavirus outbreak are getting announced nearly daily all week long. We have a few more since our last update.

The hardest hit to an event in the United States in regards to convention disruptions from the Coronavirus outbreak has been the Game Developers Conference scheduled for March 16th through the 20th in San Francisco. Amazon, Unity, and Blizzard have joined the growing list of companies to pull out of the conference as of today. They join EA, Facebook, Kojima Productions, Kowloon Nights, Epic Games, and Microsoft.

UPDATE: GDC has now been cancelled

GDC itself is continuing as usual, stating on their website they are “closely monitoring the COVID19 (coronavirus) situation and want to assure everyone that your health and safety are a top priority.”

Conference organizers gave a statement to The Verge:

If our assessment of the situation changes, based on new and evolving developments or updated information, we will promptly update this statement regarding the status of GDC 2020 accordingly.

Fears about the Coronavirus in the Bay Area are incredibly high right now as the first United States case of community spread was detected in nearby Solano County a little over an hour away. A second case was detected earlier today in Santa Clara County, which makes up the southern part of the Bay Area itself.

In addition to the confirmed cases in the Bay Area, the region has one of the highest inbound travel from Asia in the nation. Tech-focused conferences, which draw industry professionals from around the globe, are particularly susceptible to this risk.

Meanwhile, CinemaCon, which we discussed earlier in regards to them being determined to put on the show, is still facing some mild convention disruptions in the form of canceled exhibitors. A delegation of movie theater owners has elected not to attend the con. 

CinemaCon released a lengthy statement regarding their decision to move forward with the show. Here is a brief excerpt:

The NATO and CinemaCon management teams have been in regular contact with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other health officials. Based on those consultations and the CDC’s public reports we provided an extensive update earlier this week to the NATO Executive Board. With this information, and additional factors described below, the Executive Board decided that CinemaCon 2020 should go on as planned and that all appropriate measures will be taken to ensure the safety and productivity of our delegates and supporters. Team CinemaCon is hard at work putting together what we know is going to be a terrific show.

As of this writing this update, there have been no confirmed cases of the virus in Nevada, though things have been developing rapidly and this could change between when I type this sentence and hit the publish button. Check this map for updates.

C2E2, which is currently in progress in Chicago, has had some moderate convention disruptions. Midtown Comics has canceled their signing events at the convention while Scott’s Collectible has pulled out of the con altogether.

C2E2, however, is continuing as normal, but with added hand sanitizer stations. Reed Exhibitions has been fairly determined to host all their events these past few weeks, though that could change as the spread in the United States becomes more apparent.

Chicago was one of the first states to have a confirmed case of the Coronavirus, and more have been suspected the past several days. While C2E2 could be considered a high-risk event due to the proximity to confirmed and suspected cases, many fans have elected to just take some extra precautions and attend anyway.

MCM Comic Con in London, which is also a Reed Exhibition event, is scheduled to continue at this time. The convention is scheduled for May 29th-31st in London. The United Kingdom has 20 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus at this time. Sadly, they have had one fatality as well due to the infection on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

There have been no cancellations for the MCM Comic Con, which is still three months out, but Al Jazeera notes that there will be “strengthened medical support and an increased availability of disinfectants will be at the event.” The convention attracts tens of thousands of people each year.

Meanwhile, PAX East, which is also happening as we speak, like C2E2 (it’s a busy weekend for big cons!), is marching forward with their convention, even though Sony pulled out of the con. Some other exhibitors have also canceled their appearances.  

About 231 people in Massachusetts, where the convention is taking place, are currently self-monitoring for the Coronavirus, but according to reports from the con, the crowds don’t seem at all deterred by this. Please note that ‘self-monitoring’ doesn’t mean they have been confirmed. 

Like C2E2, however, fans are still showing up in droves to PAX East. This is the first major weekend of the United States con season and exhibitors seem to be altering their plans much more pro-actively than attendees themselves.

SXSW, a multi-industry conference held annually in Austin, Texas, has noted a few cancellations but so far plans on hosting their convention as scheduled beginning March 13th. According to organizers, the number of cancellations so far this year is no greater than the previous years.

SXSW has also released a lengthy statement. Here’s an excerpt:

The SXSW 2020 event is proceeding as planned. The World Health Organization’s recommendation is that travelers practice usual precautions, and we are increasing our efforts to help prevent the spread of disease per Austin Public Health’s recommendations. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will provide updates as necessary.

Due to the frequent updates regarding convention disruptions and theme park closures from the Coronavirus, we’ve created a new page to track it by convention and by park. The updates in this article will be added there shortly, so sit tight. Bookmark that page to keep on top of all of our coverage on this topic.

Author: Angel Wilson

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.


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