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GSMA, the organizing body of the Mobile World Congress, has attributed the cancellation of this edition of the massive mobile industry gathering to "global concern" about the coronavirus outbreak, but has indicated that the event will return to Barcelona in 2021 and in successive editions. 

In a statement issued this afternoon, GSMA CEO John Hoffman said that the global concern about coronavirus as well as "travel concern and other circumstances" made the event "impossible", but, he said, the GSMA and local partners would continue to work "in unison and supporting each other for MWC Barcelona 2021 and future editions". 

Nevertheless, the Barcelona trade fair organization Fira de Barcelona has organized a press conference on Thursday with the participation of Hoffman, Barcelona mayor Ada Colau, l'Hospitalet mayor Núria Marín and Spanish government representative Teresa Cunillera in order to evaluate the cancellation of this year's congress.

Before the coronavirus issue emerged, some Madrid politicians had raised the possibility of attempting to move the event to the Spanish capital, a proposal which the organizers rejected.

The full text of the GSMA's press release cancelling the 2020 event:

"Since the first edition of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2006, the GSMA has convened the industry, governments, ministers, policymakers, operators and industry leaders across the broader ecosystem.

With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, 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.

The Host City Parties respect and understand this decision.

The GSMA and the Host City Parties will continue to be working in unison and supporting each other for MWC Barcelona 2021 and future editions.

Our sympathies at this time are with those affected in China, and all around the world."