Art Basel Hong Kong canceled due to Wuhan coronavirus outbreak

<i>Untitled</i> by Cambodian artise Sopheap Pich on display at Art Basel 2019. Screengrab via YouTube.
Untitled by Cambodian artise Sopheap Pich on display at Art Basel 2019. Screengrab via YouTube.

Art Basel has called off its annual Hong Kong fair, citing concens over the ongoing Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

The event, which takes place at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, is one of the biggest art events in the city — and arguably the world — and was due to take place from March 19 to 21.

In a statement published on their website last night, Art Basel’s global director Marc Spiegler said the decision to cancel the event was “extremely difficult” and that they “explored every other possible option before doing so.”

“We are acutely aware of the important role that the fair plays within the region’s cultural scene and for our galleries, both in Asia and across the globe. Our team dedicated extensive time and effort to ensure our show in March would be a success over the course of the past year. Unfortunately, the sudden outbreak and rapid spread of the novel coronavirus radically changed the situation.”

The cancellation was only the latest in a string of events due to take place in the city that have been called off in recent months, initially due to last year’s months-long extradition bill protests, and more recently because of the coronavirus.

Earlier this week, the Hong Kong Arts Festival similarly announced that a number of plays and performances due to take place from Feb. 13 to March 14 have been canceled because a number of venues decided to shut down amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Some of the most high-profile events that have been canceled or postponed as a result of the protests include a stand-up show by comedian and Daily Show host Trevor Noah, a Carly Rae Jepsen concert, the Hong Kong Tennis Open, performances of Matilda: The Musical, and the Clockenflap arts and music festival.

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