South by Southwest, one of the world’s most significant technology and cultural gatherings, has been canceled this year due to concerns over the coronavirus.
The event had been scheduled to run from March 13 to 22 in Austin, Texas. However, organizers explained in a statement Friday that the city had opted to cancel the event as the situation with the virus “evolved rapidly.”
The event’s organizers also said they were “devastated” to call off the event for the first time in its 34-year history. The statement adds that organizers are working to reschedule and “provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible.”
South by Southwest is not specifically a real estate conference, but this year was slated to have a session specifically dedicated to the way that real estate technology is reshaping the industry.
The event also takes place in the hometown of Keller Williams, and last year the firm’s then-chief product officer Neil Dholakia was among the speakers.
For this year’s event, however, Keller Williams said that it was monitoring the coronavirus situation and as of earlier this week was still deciding whether to participate in South by Southwest.
Prior to Friday’s announcement, a number of large technology companies including Facebook and Netflix had already announced that they were pulling out of South by Southwest due to the coronavirus.
The cancelation of South by Southwest comes just a day after the National Association of Realtors announced that it was calling off a pair of conferences that had been scheduled to begin this month in Southern California. Realogy additionally announced this week that it would try to move several events online rather than stage them as in-person gatherings.
The coronavirus has also been assailing the economy for weeks now, with stocks falling dramatically last week and continuing to lose value this week as well.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of Friday there has been a total of 98,192 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the world. The illness has caused 3,045 deaths, and WHO describes the global risk level as “very high.”