MWC cancelled as attendees pull out amid Coronavirus fears

The world’s biggest mobile phone show, Mobile World Congress (MWC), has been cancelled. 

Chief executive of organisers GSMA, John Hoffman, said that fears concerning the Coronavirus outbreak has made it “impossible” for the event to proceed.

As reported by Wired, the four-day trade show – which was scheduled to go ahead in Barcelona later this month on February 24th – was cancelled following an emergency meeting yesterday that acknowledged many exhibitors and attendees were pulling out of show amid health concerns. 

Despite calls from Barcelona’s mayor Ada Colau to proceed with the fair amid assurances that the city was “perfectly prepared” and there was “no reason whatsoever” to cancel it, Facebook, Amazon, LG, Intel, Ericsson, Vivo, ZTE, Nvidia, Cisco, Sony, HMD, Volvo, Orange, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, McAfee, BT, and HMD Global had all reportedly pulled out. 

While Samsung, Huawei, Oppo, Xiaomi and Motorola publicly confirmation their intentions to attend – albeit some with self-imposed “quarantines” for attendees – what started as merely “monitoring” the impact of the virus promptly resulted in the full cancellation of the event.

The organisation is now lobbying the Spanish authorities to declare the Coronavirus a national emergency that will enable it and its delegates to claim back any lost monies through their insurance. 

According to El Pais, MWC generates €492 million (£414m) and provides around 14,000 temporary jobs in Barcelona for the trade fair that usually attracts 100,000 attendees from 200 countries.

At the time of writing, GDC – which is scheduled to run next month – is still going ahead, but “due to stringent U.S. travel and safety restrictions implemented on February 2nd, 2020, all China-based exhibitors (around 10 out of the 550 companies hosted at GDC this year)” are no longer attending, having had their participation “pushed” to 2021. China-based conference attendees will also not be attending this year.

“The health and safety of our attendees and exhibitors is our top priority,” explains a statement on the GDC website. “We’ve outlined below important safety guidelines that we have put in place, as well as health measures that will be in effect during GDC 2020 in San Francisco. These measures should help all attendees to have a healthy event.”

To date, the Coronavirus has killed more than 1,100 people and infected more than 45,000 across the world. There are currently nine confirmed cases in the UK.

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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