Taylor Swift Cancels Australia Show at Controversial Melbourne Cup

Taylor Swift just canceled an upcoming performance in Melbourne, Australia for the country’s famous horse racing event. The Victorian Racing Club (VRC) announced the singer as the headliner for the annual Melbourne Cup earlier this month, but Swift quickly caught flak on social media for her decision to participate. She’s now out.

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift at 2019 VMAs | Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for MTV

Why there’s controversy surrounding Taylor Swift’s performance

The VRC was excited to announce the star’s appearance in a press release, stating that her show would take place on Nov. 5. The Melbourne Cup spans a few days and Swift was set to sing hits—including those from her new Lover album—at Flemington Racecourse.

 Almost immediately, fans, animal rights activists, and the group, Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses started an online campaign asking Swift to back out. Why? According to the Melbourne-based organization, six horses have died at the event since 2013.

Per The Guardian, one was euthanized last year after fracturing its shoulder during the race. The Coalition first used a Facebook post to call out Swift and rally people to the cause. They wrote:

“Taylor Swift has put money before compassion by agreeing to perform at the 2019 Melbourne Cup. An event where at least 6 horses have been KILLED over the past 6 years. With such huge success already, she could easily afford to not only say NO, but use the opportunity to help the horses by speaking up against horse cruelty in the racing industry.”

The “#NupToTheCup” movement lit up Twitter and IG this year, with fans and animal advocates making a special effort to put pressure on Swift.

Swift backs out, cites scheduling conflicts

Though a statement was issued saying the singer can’t make the Melbourne Cup due to a scheduling conflict, many believe she pulled put because of the criticism. The VRC shared the news via a media release today and expressed their disappointment:

“Regrettably, Taylor is no longer able to make it to this year’s Melbourne Cup. Changes to her Asian promo schedule have made it logistically impossible for her to be here. To all of Taylor’s fans, we hope to see Taylor in Australia in 2020.”

If it is true that Swift dropped out because of animal abuse concerns, it wouldn’t be the first time an artist caved to the public pressure in favor of a social cause. Nicki Minaj backed out of a show in Saudi Arabia earlier this year after outcry over human rights issues in the country.

Concerns over animal welfare have plagued the event for years

Since at least 2013, the Melbourne Cup has drawn the ire of Australians and those abroad for its track record with horses. The Irish Times did a piece highlighting concerns about cruelty and abuse toward horses in favor of profit. Many are shipped out for slaughter after they’ve gone beyond their peak.

Protesters and animal rights advocates want to see less deaths and better treatment of horses or an elimination of the million-dollar industry altogether.

The Melbourne Cup has been around since the 1860s and will continue this year—without Swift—with its parade and races. Neil Wilson, CEO of the VRC ensures that the show will definitely go on even if the pop singer is out.

“Obviously, this is disappointing for everyone. We understand how important the pre-Cup entertainment is and we look forward to providing an update shortly.”

Refunds are being offered by Mushroom Events and VRC to attendees who wanted to see Swift. At this time, Swift has not commented directly on the matter.