Last week, we talked about the growing numbers of exhibitors and attendees backing out of Mobile World Congress 2020 over concerns about the coronavirus. Now, with just two weeks before the show, GSMA has decided to cancel Mobile World Congress 2020 altogether. The event was scheduled to take place in Barcelona, Spain from Feb. 24-27, 2020 at the Fira de Barcelona Gran Via.
On Wednesday, February 12, GSMA published a statement that said:
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.
At the time of this video, there are more than 64,000 reported cases of the coronavirus and 1,383 deaths worldwide. According to CNN, all but three of those deaths happened in Mainland China.
GSMA, who hosts the annual MWC event, had originally planned to combat the spread of germs by issuing a “no handshake policy,” a microphone changing protocol, and other safety practices, but that still wasn’t enough to ease everyone’s concern.
Before the announcement was made, major companies like Sony, Amazon, Ericsson, Intel, Vivo, and more cancelled or scaled back their plans for MWC. It’s hard to say just how many visitors cancelled their plans to attend the show, but it’s safe to assume that that number was significant as well.
The day after the news broke, United Airlines scaled back flights to Barcelona and is offering full refunds to travelers that planned on visiting the city for MWC 2020.
This year would have marked the 15th anniversary of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, though the show first began back in 1987. Annual attendance usually exceeds 100,000 making Mobile World Congress the largest trade show for the mobile phone industry.