Facebook has called off its annual F8 Developer Conference in view of the COVID-19 outbreak. The key event on Facebook’s yearly calendar was set to be held from 5-6 May in San Jose, California. The move follows the cancellation of other major events including MWC Barcelona 2020.
In its blog, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Facebook’s director of platform partnerships said the decision to cancel the event was a “tough call” but remarked, “we need to prioritise the health and safety of our developer partners, employees and everyone who helps put F8 on.”
He said the company remains committed to the city of San Jose; every year, it donates a portion of F8 ticket sales to an organisation working to diversify the tech industry. Facebook is doubling the donation amount to USD500,000 this year and will prioritise organisations serving local San Jose residents.
The company plans to hold a series of smaller local and online events instead. More details about these events will be released in the coming weeks.
In last year’s F8 conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a new version of the Facebook mobile app that focused on a more privacy-oriented experience. He also announced new Oculus headsets—the wired Oculus Rift S and untethered sibling Oculus Quest. Additionally, Facebook also expanded the availability of its controversial Portal smart home hub beyond the US.
The global spread of COVID-19 has disrupted notable regional and global events and this trend is expected to continue. The China leg of the Formula One GP was postponed, and multiple Serie A football games have been called off or played behind closed doors. Meanwhile, Japan’s J-League, South Korea’s K-League and China’s Super League have also been put on hold.
The coronavirus is also threatening the Tokyo 2020 Olympics slated to run from 24 July until 25 August. Officials are said to be defiant, but discussions are still ongoing. A final decision from the IOC could be made at the end of May—with options ranging from outright cancellation, postponement or relocation.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has increased the assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact to “very high” at the global level. As it stands (28 Feb), there are 83,652 confirmed cases of infection across 52 countries. In China, the source of the coronavirus, there are 78,961 cases resulting in 2,791 deaths so far. Outside of China, there are a total of 4,691 confirmed cases with 67 deaths to date.
On the positive side, as of 27 February, there are 36,117 cases who have recovered from COVID-19 in China.
In Malaysia, there are 25 confirmed cases with zero deaths.