Sony, a Japanese multinational company, recently announced they would not be attending PAX East, which takes place between February 27th and March 1st at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in Boston, Massachusetts.
In a statement posted to their blog by Content Communications Manager Justin Massongill, Sony detailed they would not be attending PAX East due to the spread of Coronavirus or COVID-19.
The statement reads:
“Today, Sony Interactive Entertainment made the decision to cancel its participation at PAX East in Boston this year due to increasing concerns related to COVID-19 (also known as “novel coronavirus”). We felt this was the safest option as the situation is changing daily. We are disappointed to cancel our participation in this event, but the health and safety of our global workforce is our highest concern.”
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The announcement came after a University of Massachusetts, Boston student tested positive for coronavirus after returning from a trip to his home in Wuhan, China. The student has since been isolated at his home, which officials report is off campus.
The Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh responded to Sony’s statement by sending a letter to Sony’s president and chief executive officer Kenichior Yoshida.
According to WCBV, Walsh claims Sony’s decision to cancel their appearance is based on “harmful stereotypes.”
The letter reads in part, “These fears reinforce harmful stereotypes that generations of Asians have worked hard to dismantle.”
It continues, “They trigger our worst impulses: to view entire groups of people with suspicion, to close ourselves off, and to miss out on the opportunities and connections our global city provides. Boston is united in our efforts to dispel these harmful and misguided fears.”
Walsh adds in the letter, “As a large, international company, you have an opportunity to set a good example. As a leader in technology, you can show that you are motivated by facts, not fear. As a leader in gaming and culture, you can show that you believe in connection, not isolation.”
PAX East issued their own response and took a very different tact than Mayor Walsh.
Their statement reads in part, “While we are saddened that Sony will no longer have a presence at PAX East 2020, we look forward to welcoming our friends at Sony to future PAX events and are focused on making PAX East 2020 a successful and enjoyable event for all attendees and exhibitors.”
They do note they are implementing “enhanced cleaning and sanitization across the show.”
“PAX East 2020 will take place as scheduled with enhanced cleaning and sanitization across the show, including adhering to the recommendations set forth in the U.S. EPA’s Emerging Pathogen Policy regarding cleaning disinfectants effective against the COVID-19 virus. We are working closely with the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center and following local, state and federal public health guidelines, including those issued by the CDC. For more information on those measures and the virus, please visit the PAX East travel page and the MCCA website.”
What do you make of Marty Walsh’s comments? What do you make of Sony’s decision to cancel their appearance at PAX East? Do you plan on attending PAX East?