The coronavirus brought down one of the biggest technology fairs.
The MWC (formerly Mobile World Congress) in Barcelona, the largest mobile commerce event in the world, was canceled by its organizers on Wednesday.
"With due respect to the safe and healthy environment of Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA canceled MWC Barcelona 2020 because global concern about the coronavirus outbreak, concern about travel and other circumstances makes it impossible for the GSMA to host the event, ", wrote the GSMA CEO, John Hoffman, in an email statement to USA TODAY.
MWC was scheduled to operate from February 24th to 27th and attracted around 100,000 participants and more than 2,400 exhibitors.
The GSMA will not attempt to reschedule the show in 2020. Hoffman's statement went on to say that "the GSMA and parts of the host city will continue to work in unison and support each other in MWC Barcelona 2021 and in future editions".
At the moment, MWC Shanghai is still in progress at the end of June, and MWC Los Angeles at the end of October.
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It is not clear whether the GSMA will provide resources to help participants organize refunds or make other travel accommodations. The GSMA said more updates will be provided on its website.
The additional global launch of the next generation 5G hammocks would be an important topic on the show.
In the days leading up to the event, however, several global A-list exhibitors said they were leaving the event, including Amazon, Cisco, Deutsch Telekom, Ericsson, Facebook Intel, LG, Nokia, Sony and Vodafone. Several other companies, such as Samsung, announced that they were decreasing the number of participants.
Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi, from China, were also among the companies still planning to exhibit.
The GSMA hoped to save the program by implementing health safeguards. All travelers from China's Hubei province were forbidden to attend. Travelers who were in China recently would have to prove that they were out of the country at least 14 days before the event. Some participants would have their temperature tracked. And everyone was asked to make sure that they were not in contact with anyone infected.
Organizers also intended to double their medical support on the spot. But in the end, these efforts proved not to be enough.
The GSMA has no estimate of the financial cost of the cancellation.
"Nobody wins in a situation like this," said Stephanie Lynch-Habib, director of marketing for the GSMA. "I believe that the industry is after us. I believe that our participants and exhibitors are after us. It is a painful process to overcome, but I am sure that we will emerge."
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