In June, after abruptly canceling a string of shows on his Justice World Tour, Justin Bieber revealed to fans that he had been diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome and that half of his face was paralyzed as a result. The diagnosis marked the second major health crisis of the year for Bieber and his wife, Hailey, who had previously revealed that she’d suffered a ministroke because of a blood clot in March. After resuming his tour in July, Bieber announced this week that he will be taking another break to focus on his health. “I realized that I need to make my health the priority right now,” Bieber wrote on Instagram, referencing the toll of live performances and the exhaustion he’d felt after a recent show in Brazil. “So I’m going to take a break from touring for the time being. I’m going to be ok, but I need time to rest and get better.”
At the time of his initial diagnosis, Bieber originally refrained from telling fans exactly why he had to postpone a handful of shows. People initially reported that the singer was battling a “non-COVID-related illness” and, in an Instagram Story statement announcing the cancellations, Bieber simply said his “sickness is getting worse,” adding that he was forced to postpone the show because of “doctor’s orders.” But a few days later, Bieber returned to Instagram to reveal the true extent of his illness.
“I wanted to update you guys on what’s been going on,” he opened a video message posted on Instagram. “Obviously, as you can probably see from my face, I have this syndrome called Ramsay Hunt syndrome, and it is from this virus that attacks the nerve in my ear and my facial nerves and has caused my face to have paralysis.” As Bieber speaks in the video, it’s clear that one side of his face isn’t moving with the other. “As you can see, this eye is not blinking. I can’t smile with this side of my face, this nostril will not move, so there is full paralysis in this side of my face.”
The singer added that he was “not capable” of performing and promised fans that he was doing everything he could to recover. “I’ll be using this time to rest and relax and get back to 100 percent so that I can do what I was born to do,” he said. “I’m gonna get better, and I’m doing all these facial exercises to get my face back to normal, and it will go back to normal. It’s just time.” After posting his initial video, Bieber reportedly asked fans to pray for him in his Instagram Stories, revealing that it was “getting progressively harder to eat” due to his paralysis.
Ramsay Hunt syndrome is a rare neurological disorder caused by the varicella-zoster virus (which causes chicken pox and shingles). The virus can lie dormant for years and suddenly reawaken, causing inflamed nerves in the inner ear and face — why this occurs remains unknown. According to the New York Times, most people diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome make a full recovery but it can take months. In addition to causing partial paralysis, the illness can bring intense vertigo and loss of hearing, which, in some rare cases, can be permanent. A source told People that Bieber is “very worried” about long-term effects. “It’s really freaking him out,” the source said, adding that Bieber, while nervous, was hopeful that he would make a full recovery.
Hailey Bieber opened up about her husband’s condition during a June appearance on Good Morning America, assuring fans the singer was “doing really well” despite having been forced to postpone tour dates. “He is getting better every single day,” she said at the time. “Obviously, it was just a very scary and random situation to happen, but he’s going to be totally okay, and I’m just grateful that he’s fine.” She said that she was able to see a “silver lining” in the couple’s back-to-back health scares. “It brings us a lot closer, because you’re going through this together, you’re being there for each other, you’re supporting each other, and there’s just something that really, like, bonds you through these times.”
Per CNBC, 70 dates of the Justice World Tour have been canceled through March 2023, including stops in Europe, Asia, South America, and Australia.
This post has been updated.