GSMA Cancels Mobile World Congress 2020

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 12: Outside the pavilion of the cancelled Mobile World Congress event, on the same day that the GSMA, the association organizing the MWC, has reported that it is holding the congress and reiterates that they are "monitoring" the impact of the coronavirus, at the Fira de Barcelona on February 12, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain, (Photo by Marc González/Europa Press via Getty Images)

One of the biggest tech events of the year has decided to cancel everything over coronavirus concerns. Mobile World Congress (MWC) was scheduled to take place in late February but the deadly virus had raised major concerns and forced some companies to reduce their plans or withdraw from the event.

Earlier this week, reports said the organizers of the event, GSMA, would meet on Friday to discuss if the event would go on or not. For days, the organizers said the event was still planned. But on Wednesday, it was announced that the event had been cancelled.

MWC 2020 was scheduled to begin on February 24. The tech event usually brings thousands of people from different countries. Reports say 6,000 people usually travel from China to the event.

The event is huge for the tech industry since many companies attend to announce their latest products and give details on their future plans. Companies were expected to make big announcements this year but most of them will have to be made separately.

Before the cancellation, the event was surrounded by questions since many companies had already withdrawn or announced changes. LG was the first company to announce that it had withdrawn from the event over coronavirus concerns.

In the following days, companies such as Ericsson, Amazon, Sony, and Facebook all withdrew from the event over the same reason. At the time, GSMA was still planning to hold the event.

The announcement from the companies began last week but reports said more would likely join in skipping the event. More companies decided to withdraw earlier this week and reports began surfacing that organizers would meet to decide.

GSMA chief executive John Hoffman said through a statement that with due regard to the safe and healthy environment in the city and the host country today, the GSMA has cancelled MWC. He added that the concern regarding the outbreak, travel concern, and other circumstances had made it impossible to have the event. Before the cancellation, reports revealed that organizers had taken many measures, including the introduction of a no handshake policy.

MWC 2020 was one of the most anticipated tech events of the year and the decision will leave losses for organizers as well as companies who were planning to participate. Reports said at least one startup lost thousands of dollars after deciding it would not be at the event.

Shortly before the decision from the organizers, Nokia and BT had announced they would not be at the event. The event was in serious doubt following the many announcements over the last week.

MWC is one of the many events that have been impacted by concerns over the virus. In China, where the majority of the cases have been reported, several sporting events have been cancelled or postponed. Football leagues as well as other tournaments have been set to later dates. Some big events have not been cancelled but the spread of the virus has raised concerns and sparked rumors that they could also be delayed.

The deadly virus has left hundreds of people dead in China. On February 3, the number of cases reached 20,000. Several cases and a few deaths have been reported out of China.