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World’s largest mobile event cancelled over Coronavirus fears

The Mobile World Congress, an annual event that for 14 years has brought the biggest players in the mobile technology industry together in Barcelona, Spain has been cancelled over public health concerns surrounding the Coronavirus.

MWC, which was scheduled for 24 – 27 February is said to have a huge economic impact, and could have contributed 460 million euros, and generate over 13,000 part-time jobs in the host location. Many companies had also planned to unveil their latest devices for the year, but these plans now have to be shelved and other arrangements made.

“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,” read a statement by organisers.

The event was to have a large Chinese participation, which could no longer be guaranteed with restrictions on flights from the country that has battled the disease outbreak since December 2019. Death tolls are currently put around 1,300 people, with 60,000 cases already recorded.

BusinessDay was informed that HMD Global, the company currently producing Nokia brand of phones had cancelled a pre-WMC briefing earlier scheduled for next Tuesday, following the company’s decision to pull out of this year’s congress in Barcelona.

Other reports indicate many industry players have made similar decisions including LG, ZTE, Ericsson, Nvidia, Intel, Vivo, Sony, Amazon, NTT, Cisco, and BT.

MWC 2020 was set to feature a big Chinese phone maker presence, with all of the country’s major smartphone brands set to appear at the show, but those plans that were initially dampened by the coronavirus outbreak, have now been permanently put to rest till next year.

“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,” said the statement by GSMA, which organises the event, also expressing sympathies with those affected in China, and all around the world.

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.

 

CALEB OJEWALE

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