As soon as the Japanese government chose to suspend plans to lift attendance caps on in-person events and concerts, the chances of Supersonic 2020 film festival going ahead as planned always felt remote. For such an event to go ahead, not only did it require the organizers to bring many international acts into Japan at a time when travel in and out of Japan at a time when such travel was being tightly controlled, the idea of holding such an event, even at 60% capacity, felt like a tall order. After many weeks and months insisting the event would go ahead when many other festivals and concerts were being postponed, the organizers behind Supersonic 2020 have made the decision that holding the event this year will not be possible, and the event has been canceled.
— ssonic_staff (@summer_sonic) August 11, 2020
As I noted a few weeks when the latest reassurance from the organizers of Supersonic 2020 insisted the event would go ahead, it seemed hard to believe. After all, even ignoring the many foreign headline acts joining local performers like Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Official Hige Dandism and the difficulties on getting them into the country at this moment in time, a 60% capacity event would see 80,000 attendees in Tokyo and Osaka watching the concerts. Such a possibility felt almost irresponsible at a time when COVID-19 is still a threat and social distancing is a requirement to keep it under control. Cases have increased since this last announcement as well, which demonstrates the difficulty of keeping the disease under control even without such large-scale gatherings.
In response to the cancelation, the organizers of the event put out a statement confirming that these border and disease concerns influenced the decision to cancel the event. Tickets purchased for the 2020 event will remain valid in 2021 for Supersonic 2021, or the tickets can be refunded if requested. This announcement confirms that talks are underway to host the event in the same locations and potentially with the same guests for its 2021 rendition, but nothing is confirmed at this stage. In the meantime, streaming older concerts from previous Supersonic events as the team have been doing on the event’s YouTube channel seems to be the plan until next year’s event can hopefully go ahead.
While it’s disappointing that Supersonic 2020 as canceled, it feels like a wise and necessary decision considering the virus spread. Let’s hope that Supersonic 2021 can go ahead as planned.