After several of the largest companies exhibiting at the show pulled out over the last week due to concerns over the coronavirus epidemic, GSMA has now announced that Mobile World Congress 2020 is officially cancelled. The event was originally scheduled to run from February 24 through February 27 in Barcelona, Spain.
Bloomberg was first to report the news, citing an e-mailed statement from GSMA CEO John Hoffman. In it, he said the virus outbreak has made it “impossible” to hold the event.
Here’s the official statement from the GSMA:
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.
JUST IN: The 2020 Mobile World Congress has been canceled by GSMA because of #coronavirus fears.
— QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) February 12, 2020
Coronavirus infections have exceeded 42,000 with the total number of deaths at more than 1,000. Most infections and deaths have been reported in Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei Province in China, but at least 25 countries have now reported cases. The GSMA had tried to allay fears with increased disinfection measures on site, recommending attendees don’t shake hands and even ban on visitors traveling from the province in China where coronavirus was first discovered.
The GSMA is an industry trade body that represents more than 1,200 companies across the mobile ecosystem, and MWC is the chance for thousands to gather for partnerships, deals, and product launches. MWC is usually held annually in Barcelona, and it has a big economic impact of 492 million euros, and also generates 14,100 part-time jobs.