Sony and Amazon Pull Out of MWC 2020 Over Coronavirus Concerns
We hate to be the ones to say “I told you so,” especially in this case, but the number of people backing out of the upcoming Mobile World Congress is indeed growing. Today, Sony and Amazon both announced their decision to pull out of Mobile World Congress Barcelona due to the danger and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus.
“Sony has been closely monitoring the evolving situation following the novel coronavirus outbreak, which was declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization on January 30th, 2020,” the company said in a statement. “As we place the utmost importance on the safety and wellbeing of our customers, partners, media and employees, we have taken the difficult decision to withdraw from exhibiting and participating at MWC 2020 in Barcelona, Spain.”
The press conference will continue at its schedule time of 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 24, but Sony will be conducting the presentation via the Xperia YouTube channel. The statement concluded with Sony thanking everyone for their understanding and support, as this decision will likely be disappointing to attendees. For years, Sony has had a major presence at MWC and was famous for dropping big news like the next fleet of smartphones. If Sony opts to make any kind of “big reveal” during the videoconference, it’ll probably be a little anticlimactic.
And to add fuel to the fire for MWC, Amazon also announced that they’d be sitting this one out. In a point-blank statement emailed to TechCrunch, an Amazon spokesperson said “due to the outbreak and continued concerns about novel coronavirus, Amazon will withdraw from exhibiting and participating in Mobile World Congress 2020, scheduled for Feb. 24-27 in Barcelona, Spain.” The two companies join LG, NVIDIA, and Ericsson in cancelling or scaling back their plans for MWC due to the coronavirus.
Yesterday, the GSMA released a new statement about how far they will go to protect those who are still planning to attend. Here is the full list of precautions and policies that will be in effect at MWC 2020:
- All travellers from the Hubei province will not be permitted access to the event*
- All travellers who have been in China will need to demonstrate proof they have been outside of China 14 days prior to the event (passport stamp, health certificate)
- Temperature screening will be implemented
- Attendees will need to self-certify they have not been in contact with anyone infected.
- Increased cleaning and disinfection program across all high-volume touch points, e.g. catering areas, surfaces, handrails, WCs, entrances/exits, public touch-screens, etc. along with the use of correct cleaning/sanitizing materials and products
- Increased onsite medical support – doubled over last year
- Awareness campaign via online and onsite info-share and signage
- Availability of sanitizing and disinfection materials for public use
- Awareness and training to all staff on standard personal preventative measures, e.g. personal hygiene, frequency of use of sanitizing/disinfection products, etc.
- Advice to exhibitors on implementing effective cleaning and disinfection of stands, offices along with guidance on personal hygiene measures and common preventive behavior
- Public health guidelines and advice communication to Barcelona hotels, public and private transport, restaurants and catering outlets, retail, etc.
- Installing new signage onsite reminding attendees of hygiene recommendations
- Implementing a microphone disinfecting and change protocol for all speakers
- Communicating advice to all attendees to adopt a ‘no-handshake policy’
- A 24-hour telephone Security and Medical service for all attendees, operational from 12th to 29th February 2020. This number appears on the back of badge holders, in the event App and on signage around the venue
At the moment, MWC remains “2,800 exhibitors strong” but GSMA also mentioned in the statement that “others [exhibitors] are still contemplating next steps.” But with just two weeks to go until MWC 2020, the coronavirus will likely remain a concern for many.