Part of the GSMA statement on the decision reads: “Global concerns about the outbreak of the corona virus, travel concerns and other circumstances make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event.”
The cancellation came after news from several major exhibitors who resigned due to travel restrictions and concerns about the Corona virus outbreak in China. See below for details on this evolving story.
The Mobile World Congress 2020 (MWC) is said to be the biggest week of the year for mobile technologies, but the fear of the public health of the corona virus and the associated travel restrictions have led to great uncertainty amid the usual fanfare.
Several major technology companies, including Sony, Amazon, LG, Ericsson, and Nvidia, have canceled plans to attend the conference, and some, such as Samsung, are still planning to attend, but with less presence. The GSMA quickly pointed out how quoted The event in the BBC remains “more than 2,800 exhibitors strong”.
The announcements have arrived in the past few days. Many of these companies are usually key players in the event, and while many more companies are planning to attend, it looks like this year’s show will be very different from that of 2019 or 2018.
MWC is organized by the GSMA Mobile Interest Group and takes place annually in Barcelona. It is arguably the most important event of the year for the mobile and radio technology industry. Many cellular companies are skipping the noise of CES to reveal their plans and do business at this more focused event. This year’s event should be a big one: it will open the locks for the 5G transition, cell phone companies have predicted.
In 2019, 109,000 people from 198 countries and territories attended the MWC. Six percent of these participants came from China and 16 percent came from the Asia-Pacific region GSMA annual report.
Yesterday the GSMA replied to the back-outs by clarifying the protective measures that the organization takes to protect the participants and exhibitors at the MWC. This includes a ban on all travelers from the Chinese province of Hubei and the obligation for travelers to provide proof that they were not in China 14 days before the event. In addition, participants must indicate that they have had no contact with infected people and undergo temperature tests. The GSMA will also give “advice” to visitors don’t shake hands At the event.
The Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, recently reassured visitors that the city is ready to host the event in these circumstances. “I would recommend that we listen to the experts, scientists, and health officials who tell us that the Mobile (World Congress) can go on as normal,” she said said. Catalan health official Alba Vergés was quoted in the GSMA statement on the subject: “The Catalan health system is ready to detect and treat coronaviruses to get the best response, and MWC Barcelona participants need to be aware of this.”
The impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the technology industry isn’t just about conferences. Several companies have placed Business travel restrictions on their employees, including Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Airbnb and more. Both Apple and Amazon announced to investors in their recent quarterly earnings calls that they are unsure how much the outbreak will affect their supply lines in China. There have been numerous reports of important factories for these companies Closing or working with reduced staff.
The outbreak also affects other industries. The Singapore Airshow was withdrawn by large exhibitors. including Lockheed Martin. And in one of many examples for the game industry, the popular video game PlayerUnknown’s battlefields saw that shift a sporting event planned in Berlin.
As Ars has previously reported, there are now 40,500 confirmed cases of the virus and there have been 910 deaths. The majority of cases occurred in China, and only one death outside of China has been confirmed.