A petition to call off annual media conference South by Southwest (SXSW) has gathered almost 10,000 signatures in a little over three days.
SXSW, which takes place in Austin Texas every year, is set to go ahead later this month (March 13-22).
Event organisers have maintained that despite growing fears relating to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the conference will not be called off.
The change.org petition, started by Shayla Lee, says “having an event like this is irresponsible amid an outbreak”.
“Please think about the children, immune compromised, elderly, diabetic, asthmatic etc people who could die because of this.”
9,700 people had signed the signature at the time of writing.
Despite the petition, SXSW earlier in the week released a statement on the matter.
“Safety is a top priority for SXSW, and we work closely with local, state and federal agencies year-round to plan for a safe event,” the organisers said.
“Where travel has been impacted, especially in the case of China, we are seeing a handful of cancellations. However, we are on par with years past in regard to registrants who are unable to attend.
“We are increasing our efforts to 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.”
Austin Public Health has not requested the cancellation of any events.
The decision to go ahead with SXSW comes against the backdrop of many global conferences being called off due to coronavirus fears.
Facebook last week called off its annual F8 event, while a Salesforce event to take place in Sydney this week has been moved to online only.
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