Organizers of the Mobile World Congress said Wednesday they have cancelled the world´s top mobile trade fair due to fears stemming from the coronavirus, following an exodus of industry heavyweights.
The Mobile World Congress, one of the biggest events worldwide which cancelled so far owing to the virus that has killed more than 1,100 people to date.
The announcement came after the GSMA held a meeting to decide the fate of the event that had planned to run in Barcelona from February 24-27.
GSMA, the mobile trade association that organizes the annual show,
“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,” a statement said.
It said the decision made with “due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country.”
It added that host city parties understood the cancellation.
Just hours before the meeting took place, Vodafone, Nokia, Deutsche Telekom, Britain´s BT and Rakuten of Japan had pulled out, following in the footsteps of Intel, Facebook, Cisco and China´s Vivo.
According to sources, organizers were wary of being left with a cancellation bill of about 100 million euros ($110 million).
They faced resistance from authorities about declaring a health emergency in Spain which would allow insurance to cover the costs.
So far, Spain has only registered two confirmed cases of infection.
The annual Barcelona-based congress normally draws more than 100,000 people, including between 5,000 and 6,000 participants from China, organizers say.
But this year, participation has hit by the viral outbreak which has infected around 44,600 people.