|Children enjoy a plum blossom festival hosted last year by Haenam in South Jeolla Province. This year's event was canceled due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus. / Courtesy of Haenam County Office|
By Jun Ji-hye
Municipalities are rushing to cancel or postpone regional festivals and sports events that were originally scheduled for February and March due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, officials said Thursday.
Cancelation of events are hitting local governments hard as those events, which have attracted a number of tourists, contribute a lot to the regional economy.
The Jeju Special Self-Governing Province said it has been notified of the cancellation of 50 events and postponement of 36 as of Tuesday. The canceled events included those targeting elderly people who are known to be particularly vulnerable to the infection.
Several sports events have also been canceled, including the spring training of Beijing Renhe Football Club, which was scheduled for Feb. 11 to 20 at Jeju Stadium and other physical training facilities of the resort island.
The Jejusinbo International Clean Marathon, scheduled for Feb. 29, and the Jeju International Triathlon Competition, scheduled for March 20, have both been postponed.
The county office of Haenam in South Jeolla Province has canceled a plum blossom festival scheduled for March 7 to 15.
Yeosu and Goheung of South Jeolla Province have decided to postpone a marathon competition that was scheduled to be held on Feb. 22 to celebrate the opening of a new bridge linking the two regions.
"It would be hard to push ahead with the upcoming festivals as fears about the new coronavirus are still mounting," said an official from the South Jeolla Provincial Office.
Municipalities are also agonizing over whether to postpone festivals scheduled for April and May as it is uncertain when the coronavirus situation will come to an end.
The Mokpo city government has yet to decide on whether to delay the Mount Yudal Spring Festival scheduled for April 3.
Meanwhile, Vice Health and Welfare Minister Kim Gang-lip said during a briefing Wednesday that it would not be necessary for municipalities to cancel or postpone all the festivals if they thoroughly conduct surveillance and quarantine activities.
But he added it is advised to postpone or downsize events targeting senior citizens or pregnant women.