It’s official. Mobile World Congress, the largest trade show for mobile technology, isn’t happening this year. Per a report from Bloomberg, GSMA CEO John Hoffman said that it’s now “impossible” for the event to continue due to rising concerns and effects of Coronavirus.
JUST IN: The 2020 Mobile World Congress has been canceled by GSMA because of #coronavirus fears.
— QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) February 12, 2020
Shortly after that initial report came out, the GSMA issued an official press release. It reads:
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.
If you’re a little confused by this news, we don’t blame you. Just earlier today, the GSMA confirmed that MWC was still taking place despite fears of Coronavirus. However, it was also reported that the organization was actively trying to cancel the trade show, but couldn’t as a result of the Spanish government not declaring the virus as a health emergency.
Prior to this announcement, we’d seen company after company announce that they were deciding to forgo attending this year’s show in an effort to keep the health of its employees safe. This includes the likes of Sony, Nokia, TCL, ZTE, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and others.
Following GSMA’s cancellation notice, Microsoft confirmed it will not be present at MWC 2020. “We fully support the GSMA’s decision to prioritize the health and welfare of all participants and look forward to sharing Microsoft’s latest innovations at a future date,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.
The decision for GSMA to properly cancel Mobile World Congress isn’t all that surprising considering how many attendees were already dropping out, and was likely the right call in the grand scheme of things. Even so, it’s still a huge blow to the mobile industry.
Any planned announcements will now likely come in the form of press releases, so while the information will get out one way or another, there’s no getting around the impact of this move.