Juno Awards Cancelled Due To COVID-19

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The 2020 Juno Awards, set for this weekend in Saskatoon, have been cancelled.

"It is with an incredibly heavy heart that we collectively confirm the cancellation of the 49th Annual JUNO Week activities in Saskatoon due to concerns surrounding COVID-19," read a release on Thursday.

"We are devastated to cancel this national celebration of music, but at this time of global uncertainty, the health, safety and well-being of all Canadians must stand at the forefront of any decisions that impact our communities."

The decision to pull the plug was made in consultation with the Saskatchewan Health Authority and Ministry of Health.

Host Alessia Cara revealed Thursday afternoon that she was told of the cancellation on Wednesday. "I'm so sad (as is everyone putting together the show)  but it wouldn't be safe or smart to put thousands of people in an arena right now," she tweeted. "Everyone's health and safety comes first and it's just too risky at the moment."

The Junos were already faced with poor ticket sales for Sunday's televised show, a lack of big name acts, and a dwindling number of media outlets interested in covering the awards. In recent days, according to sources, reps for a number of artists indicated they would be pulling out of Juno Week events.

Early Thursday, Vancouver's Said The Whale tweeted: "We have cancelled our plans to attend the JUNO awards this weekend. The whole situation is awful and we don’t feel right being a part of anything that could potentially make things worse. Our hearts go out to everyone whose livelihood is being affected by this pandemic."

Saskatoon physician Carla Holinaty was among those calling for the Junos to be cancelled on social media. "As a front line family physician in #Saskatoon, I have to beg you to cancel. Saskatchewan has no cases now," she tweeted. "The people coming for Junos will undoubtedly bring it to us. Don’t cripple our healthcare system for an awards show."

MORE: What You Need To Know About COVID-19

CARAS, organizer of the Junos, said it will "continue to explore options to coordinate an alternative way to honour this year's JUNO Award winners and Special Award Recipients."

Allan Reid, president and CEO of CARAS and the Juno Awards, said in a message shared on social media:  "We are all devastated. We … wish this decision didn’t have to be made but ultimately, we know it is the right one. I’m at a complete loss for words but I can assure you we will find a way to appropriately honour all 2020 nominees and special award recipients."

CARAS is coming under fire for delaying the decision. "The consequences of waiting this long to cancel the Junos can't be overstated," tweeted writer Josh O'Kane of The Globe and Mail. "Because it's a multiday event, some musicians are already on the ground or on planes right now, many having spent a ton of money they could have used for rent and food to get there."