It's final: there will be no Mobile World Congress (MWC) this February due to the coronavirus crisis. Neither the call for calm by the authorities, nor the precautionary health measures that the organizers had imposed, have prevented the cancellation of the event, which had been scheduled to take place from February 24th to 27th, in Barcelona. The initial trickle of tech firms cancelling their attendance reached worrying proportions this week, as over thirty companies announced that they would not be attending the huge mobile industry event due to the coronavirus threat.
With the withdrawal this Tuesday of Deutsche Telekom, one of Europe's leading mobile operators, the organizers, GSMA, called an urgent videoconference meeting with other operators to make a final decision. The meeting was attended by the GSMA committee, which includes major telecom operators such as Telefonica, Vodafone and Orange.
Initially, after the midday emergency meeting, it was reported that GSMA had decided to maintain the trade fair and would "wait to see the developments" with regard to coronavirus, at least until Friday. However, finally, this afternoon an organizer issued a statement stating that GSMA Chief Executive John Hoffman said that MWC 2020 was to be cancelled definitively and that the coronavirus crisis and the consequent withdrawals by major companies had made the event "impossible".
The concerns resulting from coronavirus had caused more than thirty companies to decide to cancell their attendance at the congress, including major brands such as Ericsson, Nokia, Facebook, Rakuten or Cisco, among many others. According to sources consulted, news of the departure of German operator Deutsche Telekom may have accelerated the situation, and on Tuesday afternoon, the casualties continued to occur, with the withdrawals of companies such as Orange and BT.
No-one expected, when coronavirus first hit the news headlines a month ago, the situation would lead to the cancellation in Barcelona of the most important technology congress in Europe. The cancellations began when Korean giant LG announced its withdrawal from the congress. At first it seemed that it would go no further, but subsequently the dominoes began to fall. Thus, a trade fair which was to be attended by 3,000 exhibitor firms and 110,000 people, and which last year generated 470 million euros of income for the city of Barcelona, has been cancelled for 2020.