MWC 2020 Canceled Due To Coronavirus Outbreak

Joanna Estrada
March 26, 2020

We are grateful to the GSMA for their understanding and look forward to attending and supporting future Mobile World Congress events.

The decision was taken on Wednesday, after scores of tech companies and wireless carriers announced on Wednesday they were pulling out of the fair, including by Nokia, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and BT. Other big names that have already dropped out include Ericsson, Nokia, Sony, Amazon, Intel and LG.

Chinese visitors to MWC have numbered 5,000-6,000 in recent years, making the event particularly vulnerable given the outbreak of the virus that has killed more than 1,100 people on the Chinese mainland.

It also comes just days after the GSMA assured participants that MWC Barcelona would go ahead as planned. However, many vendors who withdrew from the show still plan on making MWC-related product announcements. Event officials also plan to implement temperature screening for attendees, while stepping up cleaning and the availability of sanitizers at the MWC venue.

Since the first edition of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2006, the GSMA has convened the industry, governments, ministers, policymakers, operators and industry leaders across the broader ecosystem.

The GSMA telecoms association that hosts the Barcelona get-together faced a dilemma after local health authorities said they saw no reason to cancel the February 24-27 event, the biggest on the industry's annual calendar.

The cancellation of MWC means the tech industry is losing a major publicity event to show off their latest smartphones and mobile gadgets to the world. At this year's event, 5G connectivity was expected to be one of the major focal points.

It is unclear whether scratching MWC Barcelona would have a knock-on effect on the GSMA's satellite MWC events in Shanghai at the end of June and Los Angeles in October, as global health experts remain divided on whether the coronavirus outbreak has peaked or worse is to come.

"Our sympathies at this time are with those affected in China, and all around the world", GSMA said.

However, Creative Strategies president Tim Bajarin said the cancelation was prudent with all the unknowns surrounding how the virus is spread and as many companies had already pulled out.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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