Mobile World Congress eventually cancelled over coronavirus fears

The GSM Association has been forced to cancel this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC20) over the global healthcare emergency brought by the coronavirus which broke out in China a few weeks ago. The virus has since claimed over 1,000 lives, with a majority of the deaths coming from China.

The GSMA, which has consistently held the event in Barcelona, Spain since the inaugural edition in 2006, was last evening forced cancel the event as a result of safety concerns from both exhibitors and conference attendees with less than two weeks to the event.

A statement from John Hoffman, the CEO of GSMA, announced that 2020 Mobile World Congress had been cancelled. Below is the complete statement:

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

Fears of people being exposed to and contacting the virus during the 4-day event had led a number of exhibitors to cancel their participation. Among these were Nokia, LG, Sony, chip maker Intel, Amazon, Swedish equipment maker Ericsson, software provider Amdocs and chipmaker Nvidia among others.

Like Nokia, Sony also said it plans to host and engage customers and stakeholders via video during an upcoming session.

Following the cancellation of the event, it is still unclear whether GSMA is to compensate (or refund) exhibitors and delegates who had already paid to attend and participate at the event. Or whether the delegates as well as booth reservation fees would be carried forward to next year’s edition of the event as the CEO’s statement only states thus: “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.”

The GSMA has a membership of over 1,000 drawn from mobile network operators (MNOs) worldwide, technology vendors and others involved in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors.

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