By: Moslem Ali
Mubasher: The Mobile World Congress (MWC), which was scheduled to be held in Barcelona on 24-27 February 2020, has been cancelled due to concerns regarding the coronavirus outbreak.
Travel concerns and other circumstances made it impossible for the event to take place, organizer GSMA said in a statement on Thursday.
This comes exactly one week after the London-based company reiterated its promise to proceed with holding the event as planned, seeing a minimal impact from the virus outbreak, and promising enhanced medical services, hygiene standards at venues, and on-site first aid facilities for attendees.
One development that seems to have pulled the plug on plans to proceed with holding the large communication and mobile technology event was major exhibitors backing out.
Last Saturday, GSMA said that it is regretting to see Ericsson deciding not to attend MWC Barcelona this year, adding that “Ericsson’s cancellation will have some impact on our presence at this time and will potentially have further impact.”
Ericsson’s withdrawal came after a similar decision by LG Electronics and was followed by some of the industry’s top names also deciding to pull out of the event, such as Sony, Intel, Amazon, and Nvidia.
The following day, organizers thanked two of China’s biggest telecom brands, ZTE and Huawei, for their preventative measures, assuring their participation, and simultaneously declaring that travellers from Wuhan and the entire Chinese province Hubei, where the virus is believed to have originated, will not be allowed entrance, and that travellers who have been in China will need to demonstrate proof they have been outside of China for 14 days prior to the event.
It is worth noting that the first edition of MWC was held in Barcelona in 2006. It grew and reached an average annual attendance of around 100,000 people, of which 5-6% usually come from China, according to GSMA.
Another edition of MWC is set to be held in the Chinese city of Shanghai this summer. No announcements have been made about this event yet.
Earlier today, China confirmed more than 15,150 new cases of the new virus (COVID-19), bringing the total number to 59,800, with the death toll reaching 1,367.
Outside of China, 441 cases were confirmed to have been infected with the virus in 24 countries, with one death case, according to the most recent data by the World Health Organization (WHO).