Coronavirus event cancellations: Communication is key to retaining public trust
Around the world, festivals, sporting events, conferences and community celebrations are being cancelled or postponed due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19. Event organizers have had to make difficult decisions about how to proceed, and would-be attendees question whether they should plan to go.
In many communities, mass gatherings are banned as social distancing becomes the norm. Technology may allow some organizations to offer event experiences online, and some organizers already have plans underway.
This pandemic has already led to high-profile event cancellations California’s spring Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, and Canada’s national music awards (the Junos) — in the latter case, at the very time that some artists were flying in. Coachella has been rescheduled for the fall, but how that will work for those who planned to attend in April remains to be seen.
With new recommendations emerging daily, both large and small-scale event cancellations are becoming more common and are affecting more communities.
To try to slow the progression of COVID-19, in ever-shifting contexts, travel and events are being postponed or cancelled, including in communities that have no known COVID-19 cases, few cases or no known community transmission of the virus.
This attempt to “flatten the curve” is a public health strategy to slow the spread of the virus, to contain it and to allow time to respond.
While this may be critical, it is also important to consider what may be lost when events are cancelled.
The economic fall event cancellations is making headlines. However, little attention has been paid to the social costs. Events play an important role in community life and research has repeatedly shown that attending festivals and community events has many benefits.
In a study examining the social impact of events, my colleagues and I found that attending festivals is related to a sense of emotional connection. By coming together to share in a common experience, we build stronger, more resilient communities.
In a recent episode of the Ten Percent Happier podcast, Sonja Lyubomirsky, social psychologist, discussed the importance of social connection to happiness. Lyubomirsky’s work suggests that regardless of whether we are introverted or extraverted, connecting with other people seems to contribute to our well-being.
Social interaction is a common driver of event attendance and is thought to contribute to both social and individual benefits. Furthermore, we have found that the sense of belonging that people value often motivates them to attend events so that they can spend time with family, friends and their community.
SXSW interactive, film and music festival attendees crowd the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas, March 2013. The high-profile film festival was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo/Jack Plunkett)
Risk that events won’t return
Once an event is cancelled, there is always a risk that it will not return, and this may be a particular concern for small-budget groups already working to maximize scarce resources. Festival failure is common and frequently caused by financial issues and external forces.
For some community organizations, their annual event is the only opportunity they have to earn an income to continue existing for another year. For other events, the expenses incurred during planning cannot be fully recouped in the case of cancellation.
Long before an event takes place, the organizers have paid performer fees, rented venues and produced marketing materials. While larger events often have insurance to cover some of the losses, many smaller community-based events don’t.
The recent cancellation of South by Southwest (SXSW), the interactive, film and music festival in Texas, demonstrates the pressure organizers face during uncertain times.
To survive a crisis event, organizers must clearly communicate in order to minimize the risk associated with cancelling. This can be a challenge when official guidelines are quickly evolving and speculation flourishes.
Evidence-based guidelines, those offered by the World Health Organization or national governments, must be considered. Misinformation travels quickly and so it’s important to remain vigilant and refer to official, trustworthy sources of information when making decisions about cancelling or attending events.
Support isn’t cancelled
What should you do if you have tickets to an upcoming event? Know and respond to the current recommendations within your own community or where your event is supposed to unfold.
If mass gatherings are banned in your community or your local events make the difficult choice to cancel, and you are disappointed, consider ways to help festival and event organizations survive the cancellation.
Many events are run by not-for-profit organizations. Instead of simply skipping the tentative or cancelled event, consider donating, volunteering or reaching out to the organization to express your support and signal your readiness to attend events once circumstances change. These acts of giving can improve our well-being.
Festivals after recovery
This pandemic, others, will eventually taper off. When that happens, festivals and events will be an important part of recovery. After SARS took its toll on Toronto in 2003, a SARS benefit concert featuring the Rolling Stones, Rush and other high-profile artists helped to bring visitors back to the city.
Concert goers take in the sunny weather during a concert for SARS relief in Toronto at Downsview Park in July 2003. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Festivals and events contribute to our sense of place and our sense of community, both of which will need fostering following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Feelings of disappointment and frustration may mount as more people become affected by event cancellations in their communities. Before the pandemic passes, as it will, we have a lot to gain from showing acts of support towards festival and event organizers. We can also bear in mind the power of celebrating with friends, family and community at future in-person gatherings.
Coronavirus causes mass cancellations of business, cultural and sports events – ABC News
With more than 60 countries now impacted by coronavirus, a growing number of business, cultural and sporting events around the world have been called off.
Some have been rescheduled, but many have been cancelled, as fears about international travel grow.
The reluctance to go far beyond the safety and comfort of home is understandable.
Why put yourself at risk for non-essential activities overseas, a business conference, cultural festival or international football match?
Horse racing at Hanshin Racecourse was one of the Japanese sports events held behind closed doors due to COVID-19 fears.()
COVID-19 threatens to throw the 2020 sporting calendar into disarray, in a year that football's UEFA Euro 2020 is due to be held in 12 European countries in June and July, and with the Tokyo Olympics scheduled for July and August.
Japan is taking extensive measures to prevent the spread of the virus by holding some key sporting events at empty stadiums.
Six pre-season baseball games were held with no spectators in the stands, while the Japan Race Association took the drastic step of staging meetings at empty racecourses.
Already, Japan's J-League announced last week that all 94 football matches scheduled to run through March 15 would be postponed.
On Monday, the season-opening Qatar MotoGP, scheduled for March 8, was cancelled by the international motorcycling federation, due to travel restrictions the Gulf country had imposed on passengers from Italy.
The second MotoGP race of the season, which was scheduled to be held in Thailand on March 22, has also been postponed indefinitely, the Thai Deputy Prime Minister said on Monday.
According to health officials, Italy is the European epicentre of coronavirus.
A total of nine Serie A matches over two weekends have been postponed since the Coronavirus outbreak.()
The nation saw the postponement of five more Serie A matches last weekend, including champions Juventus' game at home to Inter Milan. All were rescheduled for May 13.
This followed four games being called off the previous weekend. Most of the postponements were in the northern part of Italy.
Tourists were left disappointed on Sunday when the Louvre in Paris was closed.()
The Venice Carnival, which was due to run until February 25, was cut short three days early in an effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
And the iconic Louvre in Paris closed to the public on Sunday after workers refused to open the museum over fears that visitors could infect staff with the coronavirus.
Here's an overview of some of the key events already called-off due to COVID-19:
The coronavirus outbreak has taken a toll on fashion week in Shanghai.()
cancelled its global marketing summit scheduled for next month in San Francisco due to coronavirus-related risks.
The event, scheduled for March 9 to March 12 was expected to see over 4,000 participants.
The tech giant also cancelled its annual F8 developers conference, which was scheduled to take place in May in California.
The world's largest exhibition for the mobile industry, Mobile World Congress, has been cancelled due to coronavirus fears.
The event is held annually in Barcelona.
But business conferences aren't the only things to be hit by the virus.
Shanghai fashion week was originally postponed but organisers have found a way to adapt.
People can participate by watching livestreams of the runway shows and bid online.
“We hope this new form will allow designers to try different ways to display their design and different channels to market and sell,” the vice secretary of Shanghai Fashion Week Committee, Lu Xiaolei, told industry publication Business of Fashion.
Donald Trump will not be meeting with ASEAN leaders in the US amid coronavirus fears.()
The United States postponed a summit for leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
President Donald Trump had invited leaders of the 10-member ASEAN to meet in Las Vegas after he did not attend a summit with the group in Bangkok in November.
China made the decision to postpone it's annual meeting of parliament originally scheduled to start on March 5, state TV reported on Monday.
The gatherings traditionally see more than 5,000 delegates descend on Beijing from all over China for at least 10 days, to pass legislation and unveil the year's key economic targets.
UK rapper Stormzy cancelled the Asian leg of his world tour.()
CNN reported the Dalai Lama had cancelled all his public engagements for now until further notice because of coronavirus.
Saudi Arabia has suspended arrivals by foreign pilgrims and tourists from some two dozen countries where the COVID-19 coronavirus has spread.
The decision comes ahead of the holy fasting of Ramadan, which begins in late April, when visits by Muslims to the kingdom accelerate.
More than 7.5 million people performed the minor Umrah pilgrimage — which can be taken at any time of year — in the birthplace of Islam throughout 2019, according to official figures.
Meanwhile, multiple major concerts and tours have been cancelled.
British rapper Stormzy postponed concerts in Japan, China, and South Korea as part of his world tour.
Green Day postponed concerts in Thailand, the Philippines, South Korea, and Japan.
Korean boy band BTS cancelled four concerts set to take place in Seoul.
And R&B singer Khalid cancelled his tour dates for Bangkok, Singapore, Jakarta, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Seoul, Mumbai and Bangalore.
It's not yet clear whether the 2020 Olympic Games will be cancelled.(
Reuters: Athit Perawongmetha
While there has been speculation that the global spread of the coronavirus that might force the cancellation of the Olympic games, Japanese officials have said they are confident the Games will go ahead.
However, a senior member of the International Olympic Committee says that if it proves too dangerous to hold the Olympics in Tokyo this summer, organisers are more ly to cancel it altogether than postpone or move it.
But the outbreak has already affected qualifying matches.
The World Baseball Softball Confederation said on Monday it postponed its final qualification tournament for the Tokyo Olympics to June because of the coronavirus epidemic.
Baseball is returning to the Games for the first time since Beijing 2008.
The final two stages of the UAE Tour cycling event, which featured some of the world's leading riders, was cancelled due to two Italian participants testing positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The Irish Rugby Football Union postponed the country's Six Nations fixture against Italy due to the virus outbreak in northern Italy. The game was scheduled to take place in Dublin on March 7.
In archery, the World Cup that was set to take place in May has been cancelled.
Posted 2 MarMarch 2020MonMonday 2 MarMarch 2020 at 5:30pm, updated 2 MarMarch 2020MonMonday 2 MarMarch 2020 at 9:53pm