Boston mayor asks Sony to reconsider its absence from PAX East over coronavirus concerns

By Emily Gera, Sunday, 23 February 2020 19:36 GMT

Boston’s mayor is urging Sony to attend PAX East 2020 after the company confirmed it would not appear this year amid growing concerns over the coronavirus.

In a letter sent to PlayStation CEO Kenihiro Yoshira – and published by WCVB – Boston mayor Marty Walsh maintains the risk of individuals contracting the coronavirus in Boston and Massachusetts is extremely low.

The letter specifically refers to these concerns as both anti-Chinese and anti-Asian, stating that misinformation has played a central part in the growing fear of the virus spreading throughout the United States.

“These fears reinforce harmful stereotypes that generations of Asians have worked hard to dismantle,” reads Walsh’s letter. “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 specifically urged PlayStation to play a role in pushing back against these fears.

“As a large, international company, you have an opportunity to set a good example,” Walsh wrote. “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.”

As it stands, one Boston resident has been confirmed to have contracted the virus after returning from a recent trip to Wugan – the Chinese city at the center of this outbreak. The 20 year old man is a student at the University of Massachusetts and is in isolation at his home while he recovers.

Sony announced it would not be attending the event last week.

“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”),” the company wrote at the time. “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.”

Sony is yet to reply directly to the Boston mayor.

Other cancelations or event delays of late due to concerns over the virus include the Tapei Game Show, April’s PUBG Global Series in Berlin, numerous developers at GDC 2020, and The Outer Worlds was also delayed for Switch.

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