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Juno Awards in Saskatoon cancelled last-minute over COVID-19 concerns


The Juno Awards have been cancelled over concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak.

The show, which celebrates Canadian music, was to take place Sunday at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon, and broadcast on CBC.

The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences says the decision was made with input and guidance from provincial tourism and health authorities.

Some artists had already flown to the city to partake in Juno Week music events tied to the awards show.

Organizers faced a flood of calls on social media for the event to be cancelled in the 24 hours leading up to Thursday's announcement, including some from doctors and politicians.

The Junos rotate through cities from year to year, providing an economic and tourism boost for the host region, with legions of artists and fans descending on the area.

They also add a huge level of excitement, especially to smaller cities, with a week of festivities leading up to the big broadcast.

Vancouver indie rock outfit Said The Whale tweeted that they had pre-emptively cancelled their plans to attend because of the pandemic. 

Music publicist Eric Alper also scrapped plans to attend, and says he told the 16 artists he works with not to go either. 

On Monday, Junos organizers issued a statement saying they were closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation.

They said based on numerous consultations with relevant authorities, they had determined the risks associated with COVID-19 remained low for Canada and Canadian travellers.

Pop singer Alessia Cara was set to host the awards show, having racked up a leading six nominations.

Her fellow album of the year nominees include crooner Michael Buble, Bryan Adams, Toronto rapper Nav and neoclassical pianist Alexandra Streliski.

Presenters at the big show were to include country star Dallas Smith, the Sheepdogs frontman Ewan Currie, Gov. Gen. Julie Payette and Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault.

This was the second time Saskatoon was picked to host the bash, after the Junos in 2007 when Nelly Furtado served as host.