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Google I/O canceled due to coronavirus concerns

The tech giant calls off what's usually its biggest event of the year.

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Google's developer conference is yet another event that's been scotched over coronavirus fears. Mobile World Congress and Facebook's F8 confab are among the others canceled.

James Martin/CNET
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Google on Tuesday said it's canceling I/O, the search giant's annual developer conference and its biggest event of the year, because of concerns about the novel coronavirus that's caused worldwide disruptions. 

It's called off the physical portion of the event, which was set to take place May 12-14 at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California, a short walk from the company's global headquarters. Attendees will get a full refund, the company said in an email.

"Due to concerns around the coronavirus (COVID-19), and in accordance with health guidance from the CDC, WHO, and other health authorities, we have decided to cancel the physical Google I/O event at Shoreline Amphitheatre," a Google spokesman said in a statement, referring to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. "Over the coming weeks, we will explore other ways to evolve Google I/O to best connect with and continue to build our developer community. We'll continue to update the Google I/O website." 

Google I/O, which last year drew more than 7,000 attendees, is the company's most important gathering each year. CEO Sundar Pichai's keynote speech, in which he talks about Google's current efforts and priorities, is akin to a state of the union address from the tech giant. In recent years, Google has made its biggest announcements at the show, including the introduction of the Google Assistant, the Google Home smart speaker and Google Glass eyewear. The company announced the smart eyewear in 2012 with an over-the-top skydiving exhibition above San Francisco.

The cancellation follows a slew of scrubbed events across the tech industry. Facebook last week announced that it had canceled F8, the social network's biggest event of the year, because of coronavirus concerns. Instead, Facebook will hold smaller local and livestreamed events. The Game Developers Conference, the video game confab that had been scheduled for later this month in San Francisco, has been postponed. Mobile World Congress, the massive mobile phone conference annually held in Barcelona, was also canceled late last month. 

Google has altered its plans with other events too. On Monday, the company said it's making its annual Cloud Next conference, which drew 30,000 attendees last year, a digital-only event because of worries about the coronavirus. And last week Google said it's canceling its Google News Initiative Summit, a smaller conference that would've gathered together hundreds of people across the media industry.