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The Mobile World Congress is one of the most important international events held in Barcelona annually. In 2018, they "suffered" over the political situation in CataloniaJohn Hoffman, CEO of organisers GSMA, said during today's press conference presenting this year's congress. He admitted that during the preparations for last year's edition, organisers "were very nervous" about the political crisis, afraid it might have negative consequences for the event. Indeed, he said they had worked on two options besides Barcelona for where to hold it. "We've always got to be prepared for whatever might happen," Hoffman said. In the end, however, "it could be held [in Barcelona] in normal conditions".

The CEO wouldn't confirm what their other options were, but did deny the names which had been suggested most widely: Lisbon and Dubai. The most he would give away was that neither of the two alternatives was in Spain.

There are now just twenty-six days to go before the congress's ninth edition opens its doors at the Fira Gran Via trade fair venue. From 25th February, the 2019 congress expects to attract a total of 107,000 attendees and have an economic impact of up to 473 million euros (£410 million; $540 million), Hoffman said today.

The future

Asked for how long they expect to remain in the city, he noted they've got a contract with the city hall until 2023, and that "there's still a long time to go before then". He said that they don't know what might happen before then, but that now that things have calmed politically, he doesn't "see any reason to not remain in Barcelona, even after 2023".