A news conference by Maroon 5 ahead of their Super Bowl halftime show has been cancelled, amid continuing controversy over the band’s participation in the event.
“As it’s about music, the artists will let their show do the talking as they prepare to take the stage this Sunday,” The National Football League (NFL) said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Most acts have traditionally taken part in the pre-event press conference, but the NFL said it will continue releasing behind-the-scenes footage and content from its halftime performers.
Three-time Grammy Award winners Maroon 5 were announced as headliners along with rapper and six-time Grammy nominee Travis Scott earlier this month, but not without controversy.
Many fans wanted the band to pull out in solidarity with NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who was the first in a series of NFL stars to kneel during the US national anthem in pre-game ceremonies. The players said they wanted to draw attention to the wrongdoings against African Americans and other minorities in the United States.
Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since early 2017 and is suing the league, alleging it colluded to keep him off the field because of his activism.
An online petition calling for Maroon 5 to drop out of the halftime show has so far garnered nearly 112,000 signatures.
The band has not publicly commented on the decision to skip the news conference.
US media reports last year suggested singer Rihanna was asked to headline the show, but turned it down — allegedly in support of Kaepernick.
Last year’s Super Bowl halftime show featured Justin Timberlake in his return after he was part of Janet Jackson’s notorious “wardrobe malfunction” during the 2004 NFL title game.
Timberlake spent more than 20 minutes addressing reporters’ questions in a press conference ahead of the game.
The list of past Super Bowl halftime performers includes Bruno Mars, Beyonce, Madonna, Lady Gaga, The Who, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Prince, Paul McCartney, U2, Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.
The Super Bowl, which will take place on 3 February in Atlanta, Georgia, is the climax to the American football season, watched by millions around the world.