We might have just entered a New Year, but many will be getting a sense of deja vu, as major events around the world announce cancellations amid surging cases of new Covid-19 variant Omicron.
Several Christmas events were cancelled across the globe over the festive period, and with case numbers showing no signs of slowing down, many more events set to take place in January are also being cancelled or postponed.
Here are some of the biggest events affected by Omicron-related cancellations:
London Art Fair
The London Art Fair, which was set to take place from January 19 to 23, has been postponed, organisers announced on Thursday.
“Whilst we could have continued with the event as planned within government guidelines, we are keen to deliver the best possible fair for our galleries, sponsors, partners and visitors,” the fair’s organisers said.
The fair will now take place from April 20 to 24, with plans to present the collections of more than 100 contemporary galleries.
Rio Street Carnival
Earlier this week, authorities in Rio de Janeiro announced the cancellation of street parades and parties that take place during its world-famous Carnival next month for a second year. The Carnival, organised by Rio's samba schools and watched from the stands of the city's Sambadrome Marques de Sapucai, will still go ahead, as authorities will be able to put measures in place to control crowd numbers, as well as ensure visitors meet Covid-19 safety requirements. However, the street parades and parties that are organised by the public will not be so easy to control.
"The street carnival, by its very nature, due to the democratic aspect it has, makes it impossible to exercise any kind of inspection," said Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro.
Other Brazilian cities are also cancelling their carnival parades. Last week, the north-eastern city of Salvador announced it would not celebrate the event.
Sundance Film Festival
Sundance Film Festival, which takes place annually in Park City, Utah, was scheduled to kick-off on January 20 in a hybrid model, featuring both online and in-person screenings. However, on Wednesday, organisers announced it would now take place only online. “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 eleven-day festival, while overwhelmed communities are already struggling to provide essential services,” its organisers said.
“We have been looking forward to our first fully hybrid Sundance Film Festival and our teams have spent a year planning a festival like no other. But despite the most ambitious protocols, the Omicron variant with its unexpectedly high transmissibility rates is pushing the limits of health safety, travel and other infrastructures across the country.”
Disney Plus's ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ premiere
The red carpet for Disney’s latest high-profile series was postponed this week. The premiere for the Star Wars spin-off was due to take place to coincide with the series's debut on Disney+ on Tuesday, but the stars and show’s makers will instead gather to celebrate the series finale on Tuesday, February 8, depending on the Covid situation.
A number of Broadway theatre productions have closed again, only a couple months after welcoming visitors back to their seats. The team behind Mrs Doubtfire has announced it will be on hiatus until mid-March to ensure the safety of its cast and audiences, while the popular show Waitress will be closing with immediate effect, two weeks before its stint on Broadway was due to come to an end.
Other shows including Ain't Too Proud and Thoughts of a Colored Man have closed for good, citing rising numbers of Covid-19 cases.
Giorgio Armani cancels Milan show
Italian designer Giorgio Armani announced this week that his coming shows at Milan Fashion Week Men’s and Paris Haute Couture week have both been cancelled.
Citing concerns over the new Omicron variant running rampant across Europe, Armani, 87, said that with “great regret and following careful reflection, in light of the worsening epidemiological situation", he felt compelled to halt the shows, both scheduled for later this month.
The designer said that while fashion shows are “crucial and irreplaceable occasions", he felt duty-bound to protect people, and that the “health and safety of both employees and the public must once again take priority".