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Mobile World Congress 2020 has been cancelled over coronavirus fears


Mobile World Congress, the biggest annual gathering of the mobile industry in Barcelona, has been cancelled this year over fears of the spread of the coronavirus.

GSMA, the organisers of the event, confirmed the show would not be going ahead in 2020.

MWC 2020 was due to run from February 24-28.

“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,” said GSMA CEO John Hoffman.

“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.”

The coronavirus which was first detected in mainland China has spread to other parts of the world with infections now exceeding 40,000 across 25 countries including Australia.

The decision comes after several prominent companies including LG Electronics, Sony, Amazon and Intel pulled out of the event so as not to put their staff at risk.

Other companies had said they still intended to come to MWC but had called off press conferences to avoid have thousands of people in the same room.

Other telecommunications companies from around the world were also weighing up their options before GSMA decided to cancel the show.

Ironically, the major Chinese phone brands like Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi had not announced cancellations despite the deadly coronavirus originating in their country.

It was only last week that the GSMA said the coronavirus would not stop MWC with plans to add more hygiene stations.

They also suggested a “no handshake” policy in the halls of the show.

It remains to be seen whether events and press conferences planned before MWC will actually go ahead.

Every year in Barcelona, companies plan their own product reveals separate to the show and then have that product on display in their booth when MWC begins.

Tech Guide had been planning to attend MWC 2020 as a guest of Oppo but they are yet to make a decision on what they will be doing following the show’s cancellation.

Many smartphone manufacturers use MWC as an international launch platform their new devices with the world’s press in attendance.

The cancellation of the show is sure to impact the release windows of these new devices.

Mobile World Congress is as much about the mobile industry and networks as it s about the smartphones themselves.

Many of the carrier and retail deals are closed at the show so the launch schedules will undoubtedly face delays.