The global telecom industry's biggest event, Mobile World Congress (MWC), has been called off due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Scheduled between February 24 to 27, 2020, at Barcelona, the GSMA cancelled the event less than two weeks before the global conference.
A press statement issued by GSMA states, "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. 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. The Host City Parties respect and understand this decision. The GSMA and the Host City Parties will continue to be working in unison and supporting each other for MWC Barcelona 2021 and future editions. Our sympathies at this time are with those affected in China, and all around the world."
GSMA is the industry trade body representing over 1,000 companies across mobile ecosystem, including mobile operators, handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors. It also produces the industry's leading MWC events held annually in Barcelona, Shanghai and Los Angeles, as well as the Mobile 360 Series of regional conferences.
Even before GSMA cancelled the event, an increasing number of international companies started cancelling their presence from the event. Adobe, Amazon, Ericsson, NVIDIA, LG, MediaTek, Sony, Nokia, HMD Global, Vivo, Intel, TCL are among some of the technology companies who announced withdrew participation in wake of the Coronavirus breakout.
On February 7, Ericsson issued a press statement saying, "Due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Ericsson has taken the decision to withdraw from the industry event GSMA Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2020 as the health and safety of employees and customers cannot be ensured. The demos and content created for MWC Barcelona will be showcased at local events, called 'Ericsson Unboxed'."
After cancelling the participation at MWC 2020, HMD Global also issued a statement saying: "MWC Barcelona has always been a key event in our annual calendar and we were very excited to showcase our new products to our partners, customers, media and fans. However, the health and safety of our employees, customers, and stakeholders is our highest priority."
With over 1,300 deaths and over 45,000 infected, the WHO has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency.