OPINION: Auckland Lantern Festival cancellation – overreaction?

It was confirmed today that the Auckland Lantern Festival, due to take place from February 13th at the Auckland Domain, has been cancelled due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. The cancellation of the event follows the cancellation of several other Lunar New Year events around the country. Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development spokesman Steve Armitage said after a meeting with Chinese community leaders the consensus was that the festival should be cancelled.

Concerns that the virus could spread at the popular festival, which usually draws a crowd of about 200,000 was “definitely a factor,” said Armitage. But how can this be accurate when New Zealand is yet to confirm an actual case of the virus in the country?

Some commentators have viewed the decision as racially motivated, stemming from the spread of misinformation, and sensationalised media reports.

Are all large events going to be cancelled or only the ones with an Asian connection?

We should heed the words of China’s consul-general in Auckland, Ruan Ping. “We respect the decisions made by the organisers of those events. Facing the epidemic, we hope everyone remains calm, objective and rational.”

The sudden axing of a huge and popular event – calm and rational indeed.