Grammy Awards 2022 postponed indefinitely amid Omicron concerns

Sundance Film Festival moved online as US cases skyrocket

A decorative Grammy is seen before the start of the 63rd Grammy Awards at the Los Angeles Convention Centre on March 14, 2021.  AP

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The organisation behind the Grammys on Wednesday postponed the music awards gala scheduled for January 31 due to “uncertainty surrounding the Omicron variant” of coronavirus that has ripped through the US in recent weeks.

“Holding the show on January 31 simply contains too many risks,” a statement from the Recording Academy said, and added it would announce a rescheduled date “soon".

“The health and safety of those in our music community, the live audience and the hundreds of people who work tirelessly to produce our show remains our top priority.”

A class of pop stalwarts and newbies including Justin Bieber, Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo were among the leading nominees for the 64th annual show, with Jon Batiste, the jazz and R&B artist, television personality and bandleader garnering the most nominations with 11.

Last spring's show was the first Grammys of the pandemic era and was a more television-friendly, socially distanced cabaret-esque show that was heavy on performances.

Those awards were postponed to March 14 after the original date was pushed back during last winter's surge in coronavirus cases.

The 2022 edition was expected to see a return to the usual arena-style celebration at Los Angeles's Crypto.com Centre.

The move was announced around the same time the Sundance Film Festival cancelled its in-person programming set to begin on January 20 and shifted to an online format. Last year’s Sundance was also held virtually because of the pandemic.

“This was a difficult decision to make,” the festival said in a statement.

“As a non-profit, our Sundance spirit is in making something work against the odds. But with case numbers forecasted to peak in our host community the week of the festival we cannot knowingly put our staff and community at risk.

“The undue stress to Summit County’s health services and our more than 1,500 staff and volunteers would be irresponsible in this climate.”

The cancellation of an in-person Sundance is a huge blow to an independent film industry that has struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic.

“We do not believe it is safe nor feasible to gather thousands of artists, audiences, employees, volunteers and partners from around the world for an 11-day festival while overwhelmed communities are already struggling to provide essential services,” said the festival.

The heavily mutated Omicron variant, the most transmissible to date, accounted for about 95 per cent of US cases in the week ending January 1.

Omicron's rates of deaths and hospital admissions have been lower across the world, raising hopes the virus could be evolving into a relatively benign seasonal illness.

But the World Health Organisation in Europe sounded an ominous note on Tuesday, saying the soaring infection rates could have the opposite effect.

Updated: January 6th 2022, 7:01 AM