LONDON: The director of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival has admitted the event could be canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Pierre Lescure told French newspaper Le Figaro that he remained “optimistic” this year's festival would go ahead, but acknowledged it might have to be skipped if the situation did not improve.
Organizers have repeatedly said the festival would still be going ahead with the lineup being revealed on schedule on April 16 and the event's Twitter feed said as of March 11 it was going ahead.
The festival is due to take place from May 12 to 23.
“We remain reasonably optimistic in the hope that the peak of the epidemic will be reached at the end of March and that we will breathe a little better in April,” Lescure said. “But we are not oblivious. If (the situation does not improve), we’ll cancel.”
Lescure also admitted that the festival is not insured against income losses that would result from a cancelation, because a “force majeure” event, such as the coronavirus outbreak, is not covered by the festival’s insurance policy.
Earlier this week, France banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.
Also this week, two television festivals — one in Cannes — which were scheduled to take place at the end of March were canceled.
France has 1,784 confirmed cases of the virus, also known as COVID-19, and 33 people have died as a result, making it the second-worst affected country in Europe after Italy.