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2020 in review: March

March was the month that the impact of Covid-19 was beginning to be felt broadly across the world, with widespread lockdowns leading to event cancellations and venue closures.

Early in the month, France put a halt on all indoor gatherings of more than 5,000 people, before a 1,000-attendance cap for all sporting events was brought in, originally for just one month.

Similarly in Italy, the government announced on March 5 that all sporting events in the country would take place without fans for at least a month. Five days later, the country moved to cancel all sporting events in the country until April 3.

The organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games began the month by allaying fears of a postponement, but with cases of Covid-19 increasing, not only in Asia, but across the world, it was looking increasingly likely. The IOC confirmed on March 24 that the event would be moved to 2021 due to the “unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak.”

Further announcements of live event and concert cancellations and postponements saw Live Nation’s share price plummet by 33 per cent, while president and chief executive Michael Rapino claimed that the spread of coronavirus would have no cost to the entertainment giant.

However, the Ticketmaster parent company later reported losing two thirds of its value over the month after its share price dropped by almost a third in a few hours on March 18. The firm joined forces with AEG, CAA, WME, Paradigm and UTA to form a task force to address the coronavirus pandemic and “drive strategic support and unified direction.” They collectively announced that they were suspending tours for the rest of March.

Elsewhere, the 2020 edition of Glastonbury Festival, which was expecting more than 210,000 punters, was forced to cancel its 50th anniversary event due to Covid-19. The UK’s flagship music festival offered the 135,000 people who had already made ticket deposits the chance to roll their deposits over to next year or obtain a refund through See Tickets.

South by Southwest and Ultra Music Festival postponed their events in March, but caused controversy as they insisted they would not issue refunds to customers after the US festivals were rescheduled to later in the year.

In addition to live events, cinemas suffered in March due to the pandemic. AMC Theatres, North America’s largest cinema chain, ordered the closure of all its venues for up to 12 weeks on March 17.

In China, cinemas were ordered to shut again on March 30 due to Covid-19 concerns after municipal authorities in Shanghai gave more than 200 cinemas the green light to re-open. Shanghai was the first metropolis to kick start movie-going again after a two-month blackout of the country’s more than 70,000 cinemas.