The GSMA — the organization that represents mobile operators around the world — has announced that it will be cancelling its MWC Barcelona 2020 conference this year amid concerns over the spread of the recent coronavirus outbreak.
The Barcelona edition of the massive MWC usually attracts more than 100,000 attendees from around the world. This year’s MWC Barcelona was supposed to take place from February 24 to 27.
The announcement was made through a statement from GSMA CEO John Hoffman that was sent to several publications, before the GSMA posted it on its own website.
The statement reads:
“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.
Further updates from the GSMA, are on our website and can be found on www.mwcbarcelona.com.”
The news of the cancellation won’t come as a shock to many, as in the buildup to the announcement several major companies associated with the show made announcements of their own saying they would be skipping it. LG, NVIDIA, and Ericsson all stated concerns over the coronavirus outbreak as their reasons for not attending.
Before cancelling the show altogether, the GSMA tried to allay the fears of some of its attendees to prevent any more from dropping out by detailing the steps it would be taking to ensure the safety of its attendees from the coronavirus.
The organization mentioned restrictions on travelers from China — nobody would be allowed from Hubai province, the epicentre of the outbreak — as well as the inclusion of temperature screening, and a requirement for attendees to ‘self-certify’ that they have not been in contact with an infected individual.
The email appeared to backfire, as dozens more companies pulled after it was sent, including giants Amazon, Intel, and Sony.
The coronavirus outbreak has so far infected more than 60,000 people worldwide and claimed more than 1,300 lives. The vast majority of both cases and deaths have been in the Hubai province of mainland China, where the virus is believed to have originated at a live-food market, though cases of coronavirus have been found around the globe.