[Updated] Corona Virus Uncertainty Clouds Mobile World Congress

Farai Mudzingwa Avatar

With companies withdrawing from this year’s Mobile World Congress left, right and centre, it was only a matter of time before hosting the event would be deemed irresponsible. In fact, the feeling was that the event would be cancelled when GSMA (the event organisers) held a meeting regarding the fate of the tech event held annually in Barcelona.

The fate of the event still hangs in the balance with no cancellation being announced despite the fact that the following major exhibitors have already cancelled;

  • Ericsson
  • Nokia
  • Deutsche Telekom
  • Vodafone
  • Sony
  • Intel
  • Mediatek

Bloomberg reports that the absence of Ericsson alone “left a gap bigger than a standard American football field in the conference halls”.

Spanish health authorities had advised that they saw no reason for the event to be cancelled from a health perspective and preparations are said to be underway until the 14th whilst GSMA monitors and decides on whether they should proceed with the event or not.

Outright cancellation of the event would be a huge blow to GSMA which funds most of its activities from the event. Exhibitors reportedly pay “tens of millions” to exhibit and people in attendance pay around US$872 for the basic admission pass.

Update: The event has been cancelled with organisers believing both the risk posed by the coronavirus along with exhibitors pulling out will mean the event wouldn’t offer much to participants. The CEO of GSMA said it was now impossible to host the event:

Global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern, and other circumstances make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event.

John Hoffman

The show which generates US$516 million and over 14 000 jobs for the Spanish economy will be back in 2021.


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