Japanese wireless carrier NTT Docomo, Sony Corp and California based chip giant Intel Corp withdrew from the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona on Monday due to coronavirus outbreak. The deadly virus has killed nearly 1,113 and infected over 44,653 in mainland China, international media reported. The telecom industry’s biggest annual gathering, with companies investing millions in stands to increase their sales, was scheduled to take place between February 24 to 27 this year.
Gremi d’Hotels de Barcelona, the largest hotel in the city, reportedly said that the coronavirus outbreak had resulted in multiple cancellations but it was too early to quantify the overall loss. The region’s digital policy councillor Jordi Puignero while speaking at a local radio station said that the Catalan government were doing the utmost to contain the epidemic. In case, the participants cancel, all the cost would be borne by the exhibitors. GSMA which is the event’s organiser would only be responsible if it calls off the event.
Both Sony and NTT, in statements, said that they had withdrawn from the event due to rising coronavirus concerns and keeping into consideration the safety of their customers and staff. Meanwhile, Sony revealed that its launch event would be held via video call.
Another company to pull out from the event was US-Israeli software provider Amdocs. Amdocs' CEO Shuky Sheffer said in a statement that while they appreciate the precautionary measures put into place by GSMA, they believe the safest option is not to attend MWC 2020 in Barcelona. The Chinese electronica company TCL said that it was cancelling a press event but would still attend MWC and showcase new devices, while Norway’s Telenor said that it was planning to reduce its programming and to cut the number of staff attending.
According to media reports, GSMA on Sunday said that no one from China's Hubei province would be allowed to attend the event. Also, all the visitors from China must prove they have been outside the country for at least two weeks prior to the event.