New and important withdrawals from this year's Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. Facebook and Cisco have announced this Tuesday that they will not be attending the international congress, in order to avoid any risks related to coronavirus. Over twenty firms, including giant names in the tech business such as Intel, Amazon and Sony, have now said they won't be coming to this year's edition of the mobile technology fair, due to be held from 24th to 27th February in the Catalan capital. The trade fair's organizing body GSMA is to meet on Friday to make a go-no go decision.
According to CNBC, Facebook justifies its cancellation as a precautionary decision, due to "the evolving public health risks related to coronavirus".
Facebook confirms it's pulling out of #MWC:— Ryan Browne (@Ryan_Browne_) February 11, 2020
“Out of an abundance of caution, Facebook employees won’t be attending this year’s Mobile World Congress due to the evolving public health risks related to coronavirus."
US company Cisco, which had a 729 square-metre stand at the fair, has also cancelled this Tuesday afternoon via an announcement on Twitter. The statement said it was a "difficult decision" and offered "thoughts and prayers" for those directly affected by the situation.
The MWC organizing body GSMA has announced that it will meet this Friday to decide whether or not to cancel MWC 2020. The decision is huge: a trade fair with 3,000 exhibitor firms, 110,000 expected attendees and expected income for the city of over 470 million euros; versus a public heath threat which is potentially very serious, but much more difficult to calculate.
Over 20 cancellations
As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 20 companies had announced the cancellation of their participation in the Mobile World Congress due to concerns about coronavirus risks.
The first to announce that they would not be coming to Barcelona were South Korea's LG, Sweden's Ericsson, and the US companies Amazon and Nvidia. To these were added on Monday the Chinese companies Umidigi and Ulefone, Japan's Sony and NTT DoCoMo and Germany's Gigaset.
This Tuesday the cancellations have continued with Intel, the Chinese company Vivo and the US firms Amdocs, CommScope and Panorama Software. Later, the social media giant Facebook confirmed its absence, along with Canada's Accedian, Spanish company Telnet, as well as the US's Cisco, Dali Wireless, Interdigital and Iconectiv. Many of these firms have released messages explaining that they are prioritizing the health and safety of their employees, partners and customers, and that they will try and compensate by holding additional local events to showcase their new products.
Meanwhile, some companies have announced that they still intend to come to Barcelona, although in some cases reducing their presence: among the companies in this group are ZTE, TCL, Xiaomi, Samsung, Orange, SEAT and Telenor. Many have stated that they are still monitoring the situation closely.
Up till now, both the organization and Catalan and Spanish public authorities have maintained that the MWC will be held from February 24th to 27th. In this scenario, the GSMA board will meet on Friday.