• Tech industry events have taken an estimated $500 million hit as firms cancel major developer and other gatherings
  • Japan's Olympic minister said the Games could be postponed
  • Friday prayers have been canceled in Iran, and Saudi Arabia is urging its citizens not to travel to Mecca for the annual pilgrimage

The list of canceled events grew Wednesday in the face of spreading coronavirus infections with governments moving to eliminate or pare large gatherings and companies, associations and sports operations postponing or forgoing major events, conferences and trade shows.

The number of coronavirus cases worldwide topped 91,000 worldwide, with deaths passed 3,100.

The virus already has cost the tech industry an estimated $500 million as some of its biggest events took a hit, numbers gathered by PredictHQ for Recode indicated. Google became the latest to cancel a major event, its Google I/O developer conference, which usually draws 5,000 people. Facebook F8 and Adobe Summit also were axed. The March Game Developers Conference was postponed, and the Black Hat Asia hacker and security conference was canceled.

Facebook, Intel, Twitter and TikTok canceled their South by Southwest plans, as did Audible and Amazon Studios. But the festival, so far, was still going forward despite a petition signed by 35,000 people urging cancellation. The February Mobile World Congress also was called off.

Oracle announced Wednesday it was canceling its Modern Business Experience in Chicago, offering its expected 5,500 attendees free admission to OpenWorld instead in Las Vegad in September.

The American Physical Society canceled its Denver meeting, which was set for this week and is one of the most important annual physics events. The fate of the April meeting was still pending.

Numerous sporting events were canceled including the Olympic baseball qualifying tournament in Taichung and Dou Liu, Taiwan,

Seiko Hashimoto, Japan’s Olympic minister, said the July 24-Aug. 9 Games could be postponed until later in the year but no decision has yet been made.

The World Athletics Indoor Athletics Championships and the Chinese Grand Prix already have been canceled.

Iran, which has the highest number of deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, outside China, canceled Friday prayers to limit the outbreak. The Islamic Republic said it had confirmed 2,922 cases, which were fatal in 92 instances. The government is threatening harsh punishment for anyone who hoards medical supplies and has mobilized tens of thousands to clean and disinfect public areas. The virus has Iranians staying home. The National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Co. said Wednesday gasoline consumption has fallen 10% since mid-January.

Saudi Arabia, which reported its first case of the virus this week, ordered its citizens not to perform the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. The kingdom closed its holiest sites to foreign travelers last week, and barred people from other Gulf states from entering the country for 14 days if they had traveled to affected areas. Officials quarantined 70 people who had been in contact with the individual confirmed as infected as the number of cases in the Gulf region climbed toward 3,200. The country’s inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah was canceled.

The Doha Film Institute canceled Qumra, which draws international directors to speak to Arab filmmakers, and organizers canceled the Hong Kong Filmart. In Greece, the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival has been postponed from March to May or June. Swiss organizers have canceled both the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights in Geneva and the Rencontres 7e Art Lausanne.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday urged Israelis to stop shaking hands while the chief rabbi urged observant Jews to stop kissing “muzuzot,” the objects attached to doorways that contain a prayer scroll. And Israeli resorts reported mounting cancellations for Passover.

Italian media reported Premier Giuseppe Conte agreed during a closed-door cabinet meeting that schools should be closed for the next two weeks. Seventy-nine people have died in Italy from the virus, which has sickened 2,500 others.

Lithuania’s 30th anniversary celebration of independence from the Soviet Union will be a muted affair. The government Wednesday canceled most indoor events. Most foreign leaders already had canceled their attendance.

The London Book Fair canceled its March 10-12 event, which generally draws more than 25,000 writers, agents and publishers. The fair is the international publishing industry’s biggest gathering. The decision came after several major publishers pulled out.

Germany Wednesday banned the export of medical equipment like respiratory masks, gloves and protective suits as the number of cases there grew to 240. Russia and the Czech Republic took similar action.

The European Central Bank canceled all nonessential travel through April 20 as a precautionary measure.

Disney has shuttered its Asia theme parks and canceled its European press launch for Disney+ in London.

In South Korea, which has the largest concentration of cases outside China at more than 5,600 with 33 deaths, guided tours have been suspended at Gyeongbokgung Palace, while BTS and other K-pop groups have canceled their concerts.

The International Housewares Association canceled its annual trade show, becoming the first major event to pull out of the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago. The exhibition attracts 60,000 people and pumps $77 million into the city’s economy.