Stormzy was scheduled to play five shows this March in Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, China, and South Korea in support of his most recent album, Heavy Is the Head (three of the gigs were already sold out). While the rapper plans to reschedule the shows, it’s unclear when that will happen.
On Instagram, Stormzy wrote, “I was seriously looking forward to bringing the #HITH World tour to Asia and playing some epic sold-out shows, but due to the ongoing health and travel concerns surrounding the Coronavirus, I’m regrettably having to reschedule this leg of the tour.”
A representative for Stormzy did not immediately return Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.
Stormzy is arguably the biggest Western artist to cancel shows in Asia due to coronavirus fears, although he’s not technically the first. In late January, the Boston Symphony Orchestra announced their decision to cancel their 2020 Asian tour with the famed pianist Yefim Bronfman.
So far, the coronavirus outbreak has had a much larger impact on top Asian acts, who have had to call off shows in China, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macao. Among the artists to cancel shows are major K-pop acts like Taeyeon, Winner, NCT, and GOT7, as well as Cantopop superstar Andy Lau.
At a recent Pollstar panel, “K-pop + J-pop: Demystifying a Red Hot Global Phenomenon,” Steve Dixon of Music Tour Management responded to a question from Rolling Stone about how the live music industry is reacting to coronavirus: “Everyone has to cancel their Asian tours for a while,” he said. “People are waiting to see what happens. If artists can’t tour Asia, while they’re waiting for it to be contained, you might see a lot more people touring other territories. You might see more in America, South America, Europe while they can’t tour Asia.”
Ashley Choi of Global Music Management added, “And there’ve been so many outbreaks — SARS, MERS — they’re used to it. They’ll just take the season off and redirect it. Same with politics. When China shut its borders, Korea and Japan did the same thing; they’re just kind of used to just going with the flow.”
The coronavirus epidemic began in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has since spread to at least 24 countries, affecting more than 60,200 people and leaving at least 1,368 people dead, according to The New York Times.