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The 34th annual edition of South by Southwest, the sprawling festival of music, technology and film in Austin, Texas, that has become a highlight on the annual global cultural calendar, was canceled by city officials on Friday over fears about the rapid spread of coronavirus.

Festival organizers and government officials had come under intense pressure in recent days to pull the plug on South by Southwest, with more than 50,000 people signing an online petition and a growing list of tech companies — among them Apple, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok — announcing their withdrawal.

The decision was announced at a news conference by government officials who stressed the needs to protect public health, and noted that South by Southwest tends to draw thousands of people from around the world.

“After careful deliberation, there was no acceptable path forward that would mitigate the risk enough to protect our community,” said Dr. Mark Escott, the city’s interim health authority and public health medical director.

In a statement, festival organizers said: “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 recently as Wednesday,” the statement continued, “Austin Public Health stated that ‘there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer.’ However, this situation evolved rapidly, and we honor and respect the city of Austin’s decision.”

The festival was to have run from March 13 to 22, with events sprawling throughout bars and party spaces across Austin, and at panel discussions and other events at a crowded convention center.

The cancellation of South by Southwest is perhaps the largest collateral damage of the virus so far on the international cultural calendar. Last year, South by Southwest’s various events had a combined attendance of 417,000, including 159,000 who came to the music portion, according to festival figures.

Originally a scrappy showcase for new bands, South by Southwest — or “South By,” as it is widely known — has long since morphed into a vast mix of media, marketing and pop culture, where major brands intermingle with tech start-ups and independent musicians to mutually drum up buzz.

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