CANNES, March 20: The Cannes Film Festival has been postponed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The event, which was scheduled for May 12 through 23, might be shifted to June or July, the organisers said.
"Several options are considered in order to preserve its running, the main one being a simple postponement," the organisers' statement said.
"As soon as the development of the French and international health situation will allow us to assess the real possibility, we will make our decision known, in accordance with our ongoing consultation with the French Government and Cannes City Hall as well as with the Festival's Board Members, Film industry professionals and all the partners of the event," they added.
The festival was expected to attract about 40,000 attendees, including delegates to the film market that operates alongside the screening schedule.
Filmmaker-activist Spike Lee, who was selected as the first black president of the festival's jury, welcomed the organisers' decision.
"The stuff that we love has to take a back seat: movies, TV, sports, the NBA is a global sport, baseball. So many things have been postponed, and I agree with this move," Lee told Variety.
The director added that if the festival happens on another date in future he would be available to take on his role as jury president.
"Let's not forget this is the world's biggest film festival, the world's biggest stage for cinema and I'll be the first black president of the jury."
Speculations that the 73rd edition of the premiere movie gala would be cancelled or postponed were doing the rounds since March 8, when France brought in restrictions on mass gatherings, limiting them to 1,000 people, to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.
However, festival president Pierre Lescure had said last week that he was reasonably optimistic the 2020 event would go ahead.
Total 372 people have died in France because of the deadly virus which originated in China's Wuhan city in December.
In past one month various events, festivals, shooting schedules and movie releases have been called off due to the COVID-19 virus, that has claimed over 9800 lives and infected more than 2,32,650 in 150 countries and territories. - PTI