Here Are Some Of The Major Cultural Events Upended By The Coronavirus Outbreak

As the coronavirus outbreak spreads worldwide, at least two countries — China, where COVID-19 began, and Italy — have essentially shut down, restricting major events and asking residents to stay home unless travel is absolutely necessary. Other countries and cities in Asia and Europe, where the virus has become more widespread, have seen much more muted activity over the last few weeks. In the U.S., officials in metropolitan areas where the outbreak is growing, such as New York, San Francisco and Seattle, have encouraged people to work from home if possible, restrict large gatherings and practice “social distancing.”

Consequently, many major cultural events have been canceled or postponed, from sporting events to festivals, as authorities worldwide have recommended limited travel.

One of the most high-profile cancellations: the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Organizers of the annual music-film-and-tech gathering made the decision last week, after major companies such as Amazon, Apple, Netflix and WarnerMedia announced they were withdrawing from the event.

Here’s an overview of some other big cultural events that have been upended because of the outbreak. This post will be updated as more developments unfold.


Producers for “No Time To Die,” the next James Bond installment, announced last week that the film will now premiere on Nov. 25 instead of in April.

The film, expected to mark star Daniel Craig’s last appearance as Bond, was the first movie to announce a delay in response to the outbreak. It had already pushed back its release date multiple times due to production delays.

Sony’s live-action and CGI “Peter Rabbit” sequel, “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway,” will now premiere Aug. 7, after originally being scheduled to open March 27 in Europe and April 3 in the U.S.

The decisions were made given the international audiences for the films.

Global box office numbers are down, including in China, the epicenter of the outbreak and the world’s second biggest market for movies. The country has closed its movie theaters amid a nationwide crackdown on travel and events. 

Industry observers are keeping tabs on Marvel’s forthcoming “Black Widow,” which could be the next major film to move its release date. It’s currently slated to open on May 1.

Disney’s live-action “Mulan” remake is still set to open on March 27 in the U.S. But its China release has been delayed until further notice.

Organizers of France’s Cannes Film Festival, held every May, say the show will still go on, even though the French government last week banned public gatherings of more than 5,000 people in confined spaces until the end of May.


Many performers have canceled or postponed tour dates, including Madonna, Pearl Jam, Miley Cyrus, Mariah Carey and BTS.

On Tuesday night, organizers of the music festival Coachella postponed the festival until October.

Several orchestras have canceled international appearances, including the Boston Symphonythe Cleveland Orchestrathe National Symphony and the Hong Kong Philharmonic.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced last Friday that the city’s top performing arts venues will be closed for two weeks, shuttering the San Francisco Symphony’s concerts.


The 2020 Summer Olympics, slated to be held in Tokyo in July, are still on for now. But officials say they are keeping a close eye on the outbreak’s trajectory, and could postpone the games until later in the year or consider holding events with no spectators. 

A small-scale version of that is expected to happen Thursday, when the Olympic torch is lit in Greece “without the presence of spectators.” Greek Olympic officials have cited “the latest decisions of the Greek Government on the protection of public health due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

On Sunday night, organizers for the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California, canceled the event after health officials confirmed a coronavirus case in the area and declared a public health emergency.

Many players had already arrived, including tennis legend Rafael Nadal, who tweeted: “We are here and still deciding what’s next.”

As of Tuesday, four major U.S. sports leagues, the NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS, will limit access to locker rooms. Reporters, who have typically been allowed to interview players in team locker rooms and clubhouses, will be restricted to “designated locations” and asked to remain at least six feet away from players.

The NCAA’s March Madness tournament is proceeding as planned, but the association’s leaders have said they will consider reducing the number of sites and, as a worst-case measure, holding games with no spectators.

The NBA has also instructed teams to prepare for the possibility of “a game with only essential staff present,” sparking protest from top players like LeBron James.

“We play games without the fans? Nah, that’s impossible. I ain’t playing, if I ain’t got the fans in the crowd, that’s who I play for,” James told reporters last Friday.

The coronavirus outbreak has forced the cancellation of the New York City Half Marathon, which was scheduled to take place this coming Sunday. 

“We know this is a challenging time for everyone, and the cancellation of the NYC Half is disappointing news to many,” New York Road Runners, the group behind the event, said in a statement, “but the resources necessary to organize an event with 25,000 runners on the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan have become strained during this difficult period.” 

Lydia O’Connor contributed to this report.