Miami Chinese New Year Festival Canceled Over Coronavirus Concerns

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
February 11, 2020COVID-19
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Miami Chinese New Year Festival Canceled Over Coronavirus Concerns
A security guard checks the temperature of a a man at a mall in Shanghai amid coronavirus outbreak frenzy on Feb. 8, 2020. (Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images)

The Miami Chinese cultural foundation canceled this year’s Chinese New Year festivities citing the Coronavirus outbreak as the reason, but its decision may be driven by financial health concerns too.

“Due to the worldwide concerns regarding 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and our concern for the welfare and benefit of all our visitors, vendors, exhibitors, and sponsors, the 2020 Festival Committee has canceled the 2020 Chinese New Year Festival,” the organizers posted on Facebook on Feb. 6.

The late notice provoked comments among the organization’s nearly 1,000 Facebook followers.

“Oh wow, that’s like saying the Superbowl should’ve been canceled too as people are well-traveled and arrived globally. What a way for an educational institution to promote fear and racism,” said Erin Tam, a Chimerican, and Miami resident.

Tam referred to a rise of Chinaphobia that she noticed coming up the past few weeks since the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, in November last year.

“That would contribute to furthering the xenophobia that is going around instead of promoting togetherness and educating the public about facts related to the virus … Some of the uneducated think they can get the virus from eating Chinese takeout. Canceling an annual event on baseless claims about public safety. Reckless.”

Tam, who is of Chinese descent, shared her disappointment about this year’s cancelation of the festival, which she intended to attend. “Rightfully so, people are afraid of coronavirus, and I understand that but to single out just ‘Chinese anything’ is just really dumb, for lack of better words,” she told The New Times.

However, committee chairman and director of the festival Peter Liu admitted to the outlet that it was not so much safety concerns that have driven the decision but merely the financial loss caused by expected visitor attendance to plummet.

“We’re not afraid of corona—to heck with it,” Liu told the newspaper. “The problem is if attendance falls off because it’s a Chinese New Year festival, I have placed all our vendors at a financial risk.”

“The entire organizing committee is volunteer,” Liu explained. “We do not hire a marketing company. We do our marketing on the kitchen table after work because everybody has their day jobs.”

It would have been the 32nd edition of the Chinese New Year’s celebration in Miami by the Chinese Cultural Foundation, scheduled for Feb. 16 at Miami-Dade College’s Kendall Campus, the Miami Herald reported. The event normally attracts some 3,000 to 4,000 visitors and many artists and vendors who can earn a nice extra income during the celebration.

Meanwhile, the organization has set its hopes on next year’s celebration of the year of the ox.

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