Mobile World Congress 2020 cancelled by GSMA over Coronavirus fears
Shubham Verma February 13, 2020
Mobile World Congress, the world's biggest congregation for the tech industry, has been cancelled over the concerns centring Coronavrius epidemic. The Global System for Mobile Communications, popularly known as GSMA, announced on Wednesday that the tech exhibit had to be called off, mainly because major tech companies pulled out of MWC 2020 as a preventive measure amid the outbreak. The decision comes a day ahead of the meeting that was scheduled for February 14 by GSMA to observe the situation for MWC to take place this year. The Mobile World Congress was slated to run between February 24 and February 27.
In a statement, GSMA CEO John Hoffman said, "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." Mobile World Congress attracts a footfall of over 100,000 attendees from all over the globe. The event also gives a colossal boost to the economy of Barcelona, Spain.
The cancellation of MWC throws the ambitions of companies such as Realme, which was debuting this year, into jeopardy. But only a few companies were going ahead to attend the MWC anyway, while a major fraction of them had already decided to skip the event.
As we said, the withdrawal of major tech companies from the MWC gave weight to GSMA's decision. Amazon, Sony, LG, Ericsson, Nokia, Vivo, Intel, Facebook, and Nvidia are among the top tech companies that previously announced to skip this year's tech conference in the wake of Coronavirus fears. The companies cited a major health risk as a reason for their absence from the conference.
Coronavirus has crippled the functioning of businesses and events throughout the world. The outbreak originated from the city of Wuhan in China, claiming more than 1,100 lives in the country and outside it. A large number of companies had already issued stringent directions over international travel of their employees and trade happening with China and the neighbouring countries.
The GSMA was also among the bodies to have responded to the concerns of the companies attending the MWC. It had said that some strict measures, such as no-handshake policy and fresh microphones for all speakers, were to be put in place. But it seems these measures were not convincing enough for the attending companies, causing their fear to balloon.
At this point, the smartphone companies that were still attending the MWC, including Xiaomi and Realme, are still to decide what they will do about the decision of GSMA. Realme was set to launch its second 5G phone, the Realme X50 Pro 5G at the MWC event - it would have been the brand's first entry to the event. Xiaomi was also supposed to showcase new smartphones at the event. For now, we are not sure when these launches will take place.