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Despite numerous high profile withdrawals, it appears Mobile World Congress, the premier smartphone conference of the tech calendar is not itself being cancelled.
The news was announced today by Spanish press after the GSMA held a meeting today to decide the issue.
We understand the reason is that organizers would not be able to get a refund for the cancellation without Spain declaring a health emergency, something the country is not prepared to do at present.
More than 20 companies, including LG, Nvidia, Intel, Mediatek, Amazon, Facebook, Nokia, have withdrawn from the conference over fears related to the Coronavirus, now named Covid-19, which has killed more than 1000 so far.
Those companies will be arranging their product announcements in different ways, often by holding their own events or via web-based announcements.
Despite the decision, the GSMA said they will continue to monitor the “fast-changing” developments around the virus outbreak, and the company said they will continue to consult with world and Spanish health experts to ensure the well-being of attendees, saying “We have already implemented additional health measures before MWC 2020 and will continue to consult with medical experts.”
The diminished event is set to go ahead between the 24th and 27th February 2020.
Update: Bloomberg reports that the GSMA is indeed cancelling Mobile World Congress 2020 due to Coronavirus, saying the outbreak made it “impossible” to hold the event.
Update 2: The GSMA has now issued a statement which can be seen below:
GSMA Statement on MWC Barcelona 2020 From John Hoffman, CEO GSMA Limited
February 12, 2020 02:04 PM Eastern Standard Time
BARCELONA, Spain–Since the first edition of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2006, the GSMA has convened the industry, governments, ministers, policymakers, operators and industry leaders across the broader ecosystem.
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.
Further updates from the GSMA, are on our website and can be found on www.mwcbarcelona.com.