BARCELONA – The organizers of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, GSMA, announced the cancellation of the fair after the withdrawal of a large number of exhibitors in fear of the coronavirus.
“With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event,” John Hoffman, GSMA CEO, said in a statement.
GSMA, an organization that gathers more than 750 operators and nearly 400 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, held an urgent meeting on Wednesday to analyze the impact of coronavirus in the event, which was to take place from Feb. 24-27 in Barcelona.
The decision comes after major companies such as LG and Sony announced their withdrawal from the MWC over coronavirus fears.
In the last week, about thirty companies have said they would not be attending the conference.
South Korean multinational electronics company LG was the first to announce it would not attend the event on Thursday, a statement followed by a flood of cancellations.
Companies cited the outbreak of the coronavirus as the reason for withdrawing from the event, which brings together thousands of people from all over the world, as well as numerous firms to present their products.
Sony, LG, Ericsson, Amazon, NTT Docomo, Umidigi, Nvidia and Gigaset had also announced they would not attend MWC this year.
More recently, Deutsche Telekom, AT&T, Nokia and Vodafone also said they were withdrawing from the event.
Organizers were not able to stop cancellations despite announcing a series of preventive measures and restrictions to try and reduce the risk of the virus being transmitted, which included banning entry to representatives from the Chinese province of Hubei, where the outbreak originated, and denying access to anyone who had been in China 14 days before the event.
The cancellation leaves Barcelona without the main mobile congress in the world, with all the consequences, mainly economic, that this will entail.
GSMA expected this year’s conference to generate a 492 million euros income, bring together more than 110,000 participants from 200 countries and create about 14,100 part-time jobs.
The number of deaths from the coronavirus has exceeded 1,000 after reaching a daily record on Monday with 108 fatalities.
More than 42,000 people have been infected and China’s cities have been virtually paralyzed while a race to develop a vaccine and shed further light on treatment is underway.