The awards’ organizer, the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS), made the announcement Thursday morning in a joint statement with the city of Saskatoon and the province of Saskatchewan, where the ceremony was scheduled to take place this weekend.
“We are devastated to cancel this national celebration of music, but at this time of global uncertainty, the health, safety and well-being of all Canadians must stand at the forefront of any decisions that impact our communities,” CARAS said in a statement.
“We know this is the right decision based on the information we currently have and are continuing to receive. The situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve rapidly and we urge everyone to follow the guidelines and protocols put forth by public health officials.”
Juno Week was scheduled to launch in Saskatoon Thursday, leading up to the ceremony, which was scheduled to take place at the SaskTel Centre.
According to the report, the decision to cancel developed quickly overnight. As of Wednesday afternoon, Saskatchewan’s chief medical officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, had said the province was keeping tabs on various upcoming events, but hadn’t advised against the Junos moving forward this weekend.
“Don’t go to the show if you’re sick,” Shahab had noted at a press conference.
“Even if you have a ticket or you’re a celebrity who’s come, if you land in Saskatoon and you’ve got a fever and cough, stay in your hotel.”
However, that decision was strongly criticized on social media Wednesday night and Thursday morning, as local doctors, medical workers and health care advocates urged organizers and city and province officials to cancel the event.
Multiple conferences, festivals and events have been cancelled or postponed as the virus has spread in recent weeks. In the U.S., the South by Southwest festival was cancelled, while the Coachella and Ultra Music Festivals have been postponed. Multiple artists have cancelled or postponed tours of Asia and Australia, and Pearl Jam and Neil Young are among the artists who have postponed North American tours.