Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2020 Cancelled Over Coronavirus Fears

Yolanda Curtis
February 16, 2020

But the Spanish government disagreed, hinting that there was another motive for the cancellation.

GSMA, the mobile trade association that organises the annual show, said late on Wednesday it was calling off the massive trade show that was to run in Barcelona between February 24-27, and slated to draw around 110,000 participants. But then again, Huawei have always held their launching event venue outside of MWC so they might as well do that.

While major exhibitors can bear the cost, hundreds of smaller companies for whom MWC is the big event on their marketing agenda may think twice about returning, analysts said.

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The companies cited concerns for the safety of staff and visitors.

"It is impossible for us to hold this event at this juncture, it's truly a force majeure situation", said GSMA director-general Mats Granryd told reporters, saying it was still to early to count the cost of the cancellation.

"On the base of now available information and the recommendations of public health experts, there is no public health issue that would prevent or put at risk an event like this in the country", she told COPE radio. Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, sitting alongside Granryd, also said, "neither in Barcelona, Catalonia or Spain does any health concern exist today".

Overnight organisers of the event have been attempting to clarify why the show was cancelled amid speculation about the true reason.

"The whole idea, that we've got to get tens of thousands of people together to meet, goes out of the window", Mike Rosenberg, an associate teacher at the IESE company institution in Barcelona, claimed of the choice to terminate February's occasion.

"Absolutely not. Everyone I have spoken to, this is a health and safety issue concern, concern of travel, concern of having to put business-critical resources in quarantine for 14 days so it has nothing to do with anything else than the force majeure situation of having coronavirus disease spreading on the planet", Granryd said. "It's not about money", he added. He said they looked at the data Wednesday and concluded that the "vast majority of those who planned to attend were not going to be there".

This was an event that many VR and AR enthusiasts were looking forward to.

It stated it would all the time support Barcelona as the host city of the MWC. "The GSMA knows that the Coronavirus has created disruption, in particular for exhibitors and attendees from around the world, including the 5-6,000 (5-6%) who have historically attended from China", wrote a GSMA representative.

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