The latest cancellations: How the coronavirus is disrupting tech conferences worldwide

Conferences and tech trade shows around the globe are impacted by the coronavirus. Apple's WWDC, Microsoft Build, SXSW, LiveWorx, Okta Oktane, E3 and F5 Agility are history, as is Collision in Toronto. Here's the list that matters most to tech pros.

The world is in the midst of a pandemic due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, and it's impacted the global economy and how we live and how we conduct business. 

As a result, thousands of events around the world are being canceled, postponed or turned into online-only events in the wake of the coronavirus and the looming threat of COVID-19. If you have something on your calendar for next month, or even this summer, check again, because it might be canceled or postponed.

SEE: Coronavirus having major effect on tech industry beyond supply chain delays (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Tech conferences being cancelled around the world 

At first, it was just a trickle, with Mobile World Congress announcing back on February 12 that it was cancelling its conference in Barcelona. The tech world was astounded by that announcement, but many other conferences were quick to follow suit. Now, it's a daily announcement of cancellations, and not just those in March or April, but those scheduled for May and June.

Many conferences have opted to become virtual events, while others are postponing until the fall in the hopes that the coronavirus and COVID-19 will have waned. Right now, with many states in the US shutting down restaurants, bars and schools, people are hunkering down for the long haul. In northern California, almost 7 million residents have been asked to shelter in place. So no one really knows how long this will last. In the meantime, here's a list of the cancellations that matter most to tech pros.

Tech conferences that have cancelled

Tech conferences around the world began to be affected in mid-February when GSMA cancelled Mobile World Congress in Barcelona after a massive exodus of exhibitors. GSMA, which produces MWC, announced on February 12 that it was cancelling. It was scheduled to take place Feb. 24-27 in Barcelona and normally attracts more than 100,000 visitors and is the largest show in the world focusing on mobile devices. The show was cancelled after tech giants such as LG, Sony, Nvidia, ZTE, Ericsson, Amazon and Intel pulled out of the show.

Google announced that it was cancelling I/O 2020, slated for May 12-14, due to the growing coronavirus threat. Google said in a statement, "Due to concerns around the coronavirus (COVID-19), and in accordance with health guidance from the CDC, WHO, and other health authorities, we have decided to cancel the physical Google I/O event at Shoreline Amphitheatre." Google is offering a full refund on tickets and said that anyone who has purchased them should see a credit on their statement by March 13, 2020. 

SXSW  canceled due to coronavirus concerns, announcing on March 6 that the City of Austin required it to shut down. It was scheduled to run from March 13-22 in Austin, Texas. SXSW organizers said in a statement, "The City of Austin has cancelled the March dates for SXSW and SXSW EDU. SXSW will faithfully follow the City's directions. 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." 

The Game Developers Conference (GDC) had been scheduled for March 16-20 in San Francisco. It's where publishers and developers preview new gaming tech. It cancelled after Microsoft, Sony, Epic Games, EA, Unity, Facebook and Kojima dropped out, as well as all China-based attendees. The organizers of the event said in a statement, "After close consultation with our partners in the game development industry and community around the world, we've made the difficult decision to postpone the Game Developers Conference this March."

SEE: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic (ZDNet special feature) 

The F5 Agility 2020 conference has cancelled. The organizers said in a statement, "In an abundance of caution for our customers, partners, and employees, we have made the tough decision to cancel our in-person event for Agility 2020 due to the escalating travel and safety concerns related to the global COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. While we are disappointed to miss sharing ideas and solving problems with customers and partners from around the globe in person, we believe this is the best decision for everyone's welfare. We are rapidly developing an alternative to Agility as a virtual experience in the near term to deliver valuable lab, break-out session, certification, and keynote content to our customers and partners."

Facebook announced that it was cancelling its global developer conference, F8. The conference was scheduled to take place on May 6-8 in San Jose, Calif. It will hold some smaller local events in lieu of the main conference, and it will share videos and live-stream content. It will also donate $500,000 to an organization working to diversify the tech industry and prioritize organizations serving San Jose residents. 

Facebook also cancelled a Global Marketing Summit slated for San Francisco on March 9-12. In a statement, the company said, "Out of an abundance of caution, we canceled our Global Marketing Summit due to evolving public health risks related to coronavirus."

Google cancelled its Google News Initiative Summit due to concerns about the coronavirus. The conference had been scheduled for late April in Sunnyvale, Calif. "We regret that we have to cancel our global Google News Initiative summit but the health and wellbeing of our guests is our number one priority," Richard Gingras, vice president of news at Google, said in a statement.

Cisco Systems cancelled Cisco Live Melbourne, scheduled for March 3-6 in Melbourne, Australia, saying in a statement, "Due to ongoing concerns about the current outbreak of Coronavirus, Cisco has made the difficult decision to cancel Cisco Live Melbourne...Our customers, partners and employees are our top priority and we strongly believe this is the right decision given the current circumstances. Our thoughts are with those directly impacted by this situation."

CERAWeek by IHS Markit 2020 was scheduled to take place March 9-13 in Houston, Texas, but was cancelled on March 1. Approximately 5,500 people were expected to attend. The event organizers said in a statement, "In light of developing circumstances, IHS Markit is cancelling CERAWeek 2020 scheduled to take place in Houston, March 9-13. We do this with deep disappointment. Over the last few days concern has mounted rapidly about the COVID-19 coronavirus. The World Health Organization raised the threat level on Friday, the US government cancelled a summit meeting scheduled in Las Vegas, an increasing number of companies are instituting travel bans and restrictions, border health checks are becoming more restrictive and there is growing concern about large conferences with people coming from different parts of the world. Delegates from over 80 countries were expected to participate in CERAWeek 2020. "

SEE: Coronavirus and its impact on the enterprise (TechRepublic Premium download)

Tech conferences that have changed formats to digital only

Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, WWDC 2020, will now be online only. "We are delivering WWDC 2020 this June in an innovative way to millions of developers around the world, bringing the entire developer community together with a new experience," Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said in a press release. "The current health situation has required that we create a new WWDC 2020 format that delivers a full program with an online keynote and sessions, offering a great learning experience for our entire developer community, all around the world. We will be sharing all of the details in the weeks ahead."

Microsoft Build will now be a digital only event. The developers conference was scheduled for May 19-21 in Seattle, and now it will be online. The company said in a statement, "The safety of our community is a top priority. In light of the health safety recommendations for Washington State, we will deliver our annual Microsoft Build event for developers as a digital event, in lieu of an in-person event. We look forward to bringing together our ecosystem of developers in this new virtual format to learn, connect, and code together. Stay tuned for more details to come."

Google has scrapped plans to hold Google Cloud Next in person April 6-8 and has turned it into a digital event.

LiveWorx 2020 has gone virtual. It was scheduled to take place June 8-11 in Boston, Mass. and now it will be a digital event.

Okta's Oktane is cancelled. It's the company's annual event for IT professionals, product leaders, and developers. It was set to be held at San Francisco's Moscone Center. It's now going to be an online-only event. It's slated for March 30-April 2. 

IBM's Think has also gone digital. It will be held May 5-7 with "live streamed content, interactive sessions and certifications, and locally hosted events." 

Microsoft cancelled its annual Most Valuable Professional Summit, announcing that it would become an online event. The MVP Summit was set for March 15-20 in Bellevue and Redmond, Wash. 

Adobe Summit was scheduled to take place from March 31-April 2 in Las Vegas. The organizers said in a statement, "Over the past few weeks, we have been closely monitoring and evaluating the situation around COVID-19 to ensure we are taking the necessary measures to protect the health and wellbeing of Adobe Summit attendees. As a result, we have made the difficult but important decision to make Summit/Imagine 2020 an online event this year and cancel the live event in Las Vegas."

Salesforce World Tour Sydney has gone from an in-person conference to an online-only event on March 4. "Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our stakeholders. Over the last few months, we have been closely monitoring the evolving situation with the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak to ensure we are taking every precaution to look after our customers, partners, and employees," the company posted on its website. "After careful consideration of our stakeholders and reflection on our values, we've decided to change the format of our World Tour in person event on Wednesday 4 March to be an online experience." 

The 2020 Global Health Conference & Exhibition is a health IT conference in Orlando, Fla. It was originally scheduled for March 9-13 and it's now a digital-only event. It drew nearly 45,000 people in 2019. 

The SAP Ariba Live spend management conference in Las Vegas, Nevada was originally scheduled for March 16-18 and now it will be digital-only.

Nvidia GPU Technology Conference is a developer conference in San Jose, Calif. It was originally scheduled for March 22-26 and is now digital.

Tech conferences with exhibitors pulling out

RSA ran from Feb. 24-28 in San Francisco. IBM, AT&T and Verizon withdrew in the days before the conference began, citing concerns over the coronavirus. In all, fourteen companies, including six from China, opted out of the event due to coronavirus concerns

Now, it turns out that at least two RSA attendees have been diagnosed with COVID-19. They are both Exabeam employees and may have been at the company's booth. Exabeam is asking anyone who visited their booth to monitor their health and pay attention to any potential coronavirus symptoms. 

Tech conferences that have been postponed

EmTech Asia has been postponed from March 24-26 in Singapore, to August 4-5. The organizers of the international technology summit said they decided to postpone the event due to concerns over the coronavirus.

Black Hat Asia, originally scheduled for March 31 to April 3 in Singapore, has been postponed until September 29-October 2. The website has a notice, "After careful consideration of the health and safety of our attendees and partners, we have made the difficult decision to postpone Black Hat Asia 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak. We understand the inconvenience this may cause and will follow up directly with all of those who are scheduled to attend and exhibit to determine appropriate next steps."

This article was updated on March 17, 2020.

Also see 


Apple CEO Tim Cook presents the keynote address during Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California on June 3, 2019.