Boston Mayor says Sony pulling out of PAX over coronavirus fears is reinforcing harmful Asian stereotypes

Marty Walsh asked the Japanese giant to reconsider.

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Rapidly expanding outbreaks in South Korea, Iran and Italy, following those in China and Japan, are raising fears of a coronavirus pandemic on multiple continents and the Wold Health Organization is today warning that the world is “unready” for the coronavirus global spread.

But the Mayor of Boston appears to think the concerns are overblown and provisions agains the spread of the virus could be seen as racist.

“As a leader in technology, you can show that you are motivated by facts, not fear,” says the Democratic mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, asking the Japanese multinational giant Sony to reverse its decision about staying away from the PAX gaming festival due to “increasing concerns” surrounding the Coronavirus outbreak.

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

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Held every year in Seattle, Boston, and Philadelphia in the US, and Melbourne in Australia, PAX is a series of gaming culture festivals.

PlayStation confirmed earlier this week that it wouldn’t attend the PAX East and that it took “the best option as the situation related to the virus and global travel restrictions are changing daily.”

The Boston mayor wrote a letter to the Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida about how their decision to pull PlayStation out can reinforce “harmful stereotypes” about Chinese people, fueled by “confusion and lack of information”.

“These fears reinforce harmful stereotypes that generations of Asians have worked hard to dismantle. 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,” wrote the mayor.

With Sony deciding to not attend the PAX East, the highly awaited demo of The Last of Us Part 2 will not be available for attendees.

The game developers tweeted saying:

As of now, Sony hasn’t responded publicly to the Boston mayor’s letter.

However, with game developers explicitly stating that they aren’t going to attend the gaming festival, it does seem like Sony has made up its mind about not wanting to attend PAX East.

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Naga Pramod

Naga Pramod is a computer science major and tech news reporter with a passion for cyber security, networking, and data science. [email protected]