Update: ABloomberg, it was a few minutes ago but now the GSMA has officially confirmed that it will cancel this year's Mobile World Congress. The organization's CEO, John Hoffman, says the Coronavirus outbreak made it impossible to hold the event and that cancellation is the safest option.
"With due respect to the safe and healthy environment of Barcelona and the host country, the GSMA canceled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern about the coronavirus outbreak, the concern with travel and other circumstances, makes it impossible to carry out the event", says the CEO in a written statement.
MWC 2020 was scheduled for February 24th to 27th in the city of Barcelona, ??where the fair has been held since 2006. The event brings together over 100 thousand visitors and one of the largest certainly technological in the world.
This afternoon, the Spanish press stated that the organization would have decided to continue the plans for the holding of MWC 2020. The issue of withdrawals would have even weighed on the organization's accounts and the absence of Ericsson, which occupies a huge area at the event, is one of the protagonists 5G has motivated other companies to give up. Nokia, Facebook, Cisco and AT&T are among the latest in a long list of cancellations.
According to the latest balance of the Chinese National Health Commission, there are already more than 44 thousand confirmed cases with the new coronavirus of 44,653 and the number of deaths in China has already exceeded 1,100 people, having been growing in recent days.
Francisco Jernimo, vice president of IDC for the mobility area, explains to SAPO TEK that the consultant had already decided not to be present this year with the accumulation of concerns because of the Coronavirus. "Some manufacturers were telling us that it was cheaper for them to cancel their presence, since customers and partners were canceling. The possibility of business was decreasing and employees and families were showing a lot of discomfort", he says .
The dominant effect was putting pressure on the organization of the MWC so that there would be an official cancellation, not least because in this way companies could obtain reimbursement or eventually recover part of the cost of reserves for the next year.
Many companies invest many months in advance when booking travel and hotels that are already overcrowded in Barcelona at this time and reach astronomical prices of more than 500 euros a day in last minute bookings, in usually low-cost hotels. This is without considering the cost of the "fair floor", assembly and preparation of the stands and all the logistics involved.
Previous story: The GSMA, the organization organization of the Mobile World Congress, has been on alert under pressure from the withdrawals of the major technological manufacturers and had promised to hold an emergency meeting until Friday to take a position on the eventual cancellation of the event.
According to the Spanish press this afternoon, the plans were going to continue, and if it depended on the GSMA, the MWC would even take place at the end of February. This position was not communicated on the official website of the organization. In statements to El Pais, the organization's spokesman said that "the situation of the Coronavirus changes rapidly" and that they continued to analyze its evolution closely. As measures, it held regular meetings with health specialists, both Spanish and international, as well as its technological partners to ensure the safety of its visitors.
The GSMA's "insecure" position was based on the position defended by the authorities and members of the Catalonian government who took responsibility for holding the event for the organization. She was more relaxed when the Public Health Secretariat of Catalonia, Joan Guix, said in an interview that there were no health reasons to suspend the fair.
Previously, in an interview with the TV3 channel, Alba Vergs, Catalan regional health advisor, stated that the region is more prepared than ever, indicating to companies that were afraid to participate in the technological fair that there was no reason to be afraid.
The newspaper reported that some sources in the sector reported that the GSMA was between the sword and the wall when it came to canceling the fair. On the one hand, if it were to cancel, it might have to pay millionaire monetary compensation, in case there is no declaration of health alert at national level. At stake was the investment that companies make for their participation, including the rental of stands for meetings with partners and customers, spending on hotels and restaurants. On the other hand, it was felt that the event was dying due to the abandonment of some of the biggest players in the industry.
Some of the companies might even be waiting for the GSMA to assume a reduction in participation fees, in order to recover part of their investment made in MWC.