The Olympics, Royal Easter Show and Vivid Sydney: Exactly how COVID-19 is impacting major events.

We are nine weeks into the outbreak of COVID-19. Worldwide, in over 123 countries and territories, there has been nearly 150,000 infections and over 5,000 deaths.

The virus continues to spread, with the World Health Organisation declaring coronavirus a pandemic.

On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people should not proceed from Monday to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

Here are some of the major events that have been impacted by the spread of coronavirus, and whether or not they’re going ahead.

Listen: An infectious disease specialist answers your 20 most pressing questions about COVID-19. Post continues below.

Vivid Sydney

Sydney’s annual light, music and ideas festival, Vivid Sydney, is the latest event to be cancelled in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The festival, which was set to take place between May 22 and June 13, attracted 2.4 million visitors last year and brought in $172 million dollars to the NSW economy.

The Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres, said the cancellation will be a huge setback for the economy, though the decision was “not taken lightly.”

“It’s been an incredibly tough time for the tourism industry and this is yet another body blow, but NSW will bounce back,” he said.

“As the event owner, we must follow the advice of health officials to ensure the health and safety of our citizens and everyone involved with Vivid Sydney.”


The Royal Easter Show

The Sydney Royal Easter Show was cancelled on Friday, as authorities escalate measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The Easter show is something to look forward to for rural communities that have suffered tough times on the land in recent years.

“They’ve been going through drought for so many years, and then you overlay that with the bushfires,” NSW chief executive of Royal Agricultural Society Brock Gilmour said.

“Our exhibitor numbers this year were strong – people wanted to be there for their mental health. It’s just a terrible situation.”

Formula One Grand Prix

This weekend’s Australian Formula One Grand Prix was cancelled on Friday morning.

Sporting matches

The large majority of sporting matches with big crowds have been called off worldwide.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) today confirmed that the international friendly between the Matildas and world No.8 Canada, scheduled for April 14 in Vancouver, BC, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

It’s also been confirmed that AFL and AFLW seasons will go ahead, although the matches will be held in empty stadiums. In the interests of public health, no spectator tickets are being sold, meaning fans will have to watch on television.


In America, the suspension of the 2019-20 NBA season likely will last at least 30 days, though it’s possible the campaign will not resume at all.

The hiatus comes after the league shuttered indefinitely following Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert’s positive test for coronavirus.

The Olympics

The Tokyo Games, which are scheduled to start on July 24, appear set to go ahead despite the continuing spread of the coronavirus in Japan.

The Australian Olympic Committee is keeping a close eye on proceedings, but have been given assurances that the Games will proceed as planned.

No Australian athletes have indicated they want to pull out of this year’s Olympics due to the threat of the coronavirus, according to AOC vice-president Ian Chesterman.

“From our point of view, it’s full steam ahead as we get ready to take the team away,” he said.


A co-organiser of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam is reviewing its options in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

A spokesman for Dutch broadcaster NPO said on Friday that organisers would follow the advice of health authorities in deciding what form the event, due to be held on May 12-16, would take.

Eurovision usually attracts a live audience of tens of thousands and a TV one of close to 200 million.

Public gatherings have so far not been restricted in the Netherlands. Vormer gave no details of what alternative plans might be.

Watch: The World Health Organisation’s tips for protecting yourself from COVID-19.

Video by World Health Organisation


SXSW, the yearly music and tech conference in Austin, Texas, was scheduled to occur this week, however it was cancelled seven days prior.


“We are devastated to share this news with you,” organisers wrote on the SXSW website. “‘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.”

According to Forbes, SXSW made a profit of $356 million for the city of Austin last year.

Ultra Musical Festival

The three-day Ultra Music Festival in Miami – which typically attracts 100,000 festival-goers from over 100 countries – was officially cancelled due to coronavirus concerns.

“It is with a heavy heart that we inform you that the City of Miami has issued an official directive requiring that the 22nd edition of Ultra Music Festival, originally scheduled for March 20, 21 and 22, 2020, will be postponed to March 26, 27 and 28, 2021,” the festival organisers wrote in a statement.

“Due to the Florida Governor’s declaration of a public health emergency and Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s Interim Guidance for COVID-19, it is impossible for the City to provide access to Bayfront Park at this time.”

facts about coronavirus
COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic. Image: Getty.

Tomorrowland Music Festival

The electronic-music festival Tomorrowland, held in the French Alps and scheduled to run between March 14 to March 21, has been cancelled.

This follows the French government prohibiting "all indoor gatherings of more than 5,000 people". As of March 7, there has been 653 cases of coronavirus in France and nine deaths.



Coachella, one of the biggest annual festivals in the world, has postponed the event.

The California-based festival is estimated to bring in a profit of over $1 billion.


A slew of concerts have been cancelled due to the coronavirus. Performers who have been forced to call off their concerts include Mariah Carey, Louis Tomlinson, Khalid, Stormzy, Green Day, Avril Lavigne and BTS.

The economy

Of course, with the mass cancellation of events, there has been a significant impact on the economy.

Global stock markets have tumbled as disruptions to business from the spreading epidemic has worsened, stoking fears of a prolonged economic slowdown.

Officials and companies in Britain, France, Italy and the United States are struggling to deal with a steady rise in virus infections that have in some cases triggered corporate defaults, office evacuations and panic buying of daily necessities.

— With AAP.

Feature Image: Getty. 

This article was first published on March 7 and has been updated March 15.

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