The Mobile World Congress 2020, or MWC 2020, is almost upon us, with the event set to happen from the 24th till the 27th of February in Barcelona. However, with the COVID-19 (formerly known as the 2019 novel coronavirus) outbreak continuing to develop, some brands have decided to pull out of the biggest mobile trade show of the year, with Sony and Ericsson earlier joining the growing list of absentees, including LG, Amazon, and Nvidia.
And now, Facebook, Intel, and Vivo have announced that they will not be taking part in the MWC 2020 over concerns of the coronavirus—COVID-19 has claimed 1,112 deaths in total, with 44,787 individuals affected over 25 countries (accurate as of 7:30am, 12 February). The annual convention usually draws crowds of more than 100,000 from all corners of the globe, although participation is expected to be affected by the outbreak of the coronavirus.
With the list of major players wthdrawing from the event, you’d be forgiven for wondering if the organisers of MWC, might be considering cancelling or postponing the convention altogether. An official statement from GSMA appears to suggest that the event will go on regardless, with the organisers collaborating with Spanish health authorities, Host City partners, and relevant agencies.
However, with that list of absentees potentially growing, perhaps things might change. Intel explained their decision to drop out as a precautionary measure to AFP:
“The safety and wellbeing of all our employees and partners is our top priority, and we have withdrawn from this year’s Mobile World Congress out of an abundance of caution.”
Meanwhile, Facebook has also pulled out of the event due to public health risks, along with American company, Cisco. Vivo also had an explanation that went along the same lines, more or less:
“In light of the current situation, we have taken the decision not to attend MWC 2020 or any other associated event in Barcelona at the same time. The health and security of our employees and the wider public are a priority for us.”
Despite that, a large majority of infections, and deaths, from the coronavirus have been in mainland China. However, with the outbreak continuing to spread—we’re currently at 25 countries—the World Health Organisation has declared a global health emergency, and also said that the outbreak poses a “very grave threat”.
While acknowledging the “disruption” that COVID-19 has caused—especially given that 5–6% of attendees and exhibitors usually come from China—GSMA announced on the 9th of February 2020 that the event would go ahead as planned, with more than 2,800 exhibitors still expected.
[ VIA ]