Shows cancelled as virus outbreak spooks Asian entertainers

By Juwon Park, The Associated Press

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — Concerts and shows are being cancelled, not just in China but across much of Asia, as a virus outbreak that has killed more than 300 people and reached more then 20 countries spooks the entertainment industry.

Performances have been called off or postponed in South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macao over concern that people could be infected by the virus that first appeared in the central China city of Wuhan.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra called off its Asia tour, and the Hong Kong Philharmonic cancelled five concerts.

Cantopop veteran Andy Lau cancelled long-awaited concerts in Hong Kong, with the organizer saying it’s important to protect the health and safety of the audience. It’s unclear whether Lau will proceed with an April concert in Wuhan.

Popular Hong Kong singers Leon Lai and Miriam Yeung also postponed their February concerts in Macao and Singapore, respectively. Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai postponed her show in China, according to her official account on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform.

South Korean agencies have been cancelling K-pop events at home and abroad in response to requests from fans about artists’ safety.

Popular K-pop artists such as Taeyeon and boybands WINNER and NCT Dream cancelled shows in Singapore and Macao, according to their agency and concert organizer. K-pop boyband GOT7 postponed concerts in Bangkok and Singapore. A fan showcase by girlband GFriend is taking place without an audience due to virus fears.

The ripple effects of the virus have been hitting the arts industry hard in Asia, especially in Hong Kong. The city, which has moulded itself into an international cultural hub and gateway to China, now faces cancellation of multiple events, wreaking further havoc on an economy already crippled by prolonged anti-government protests that started last summer.

Art Basel Hong Kong, one of Asia’s most prestigious art fairs, is considering whether to go forward with the annual event in March.

“We share the concerns expressed to us by you, our gallerists and partners,” the organizers said in a Jan. 30 letter to exhibitors. “This is a challenging time for all of us. Our team is working hard to review all possible options.”

Juwon Park, The Associated Press

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