×

Coronavirus Fears Lead to Mobile World Congress Cancellation

MADRID — The Mobile World Congress, Europe’s largest telecom conference scheduled to take place Feb. 24-27, has been cancelled after more than a dozen participating companies announced they would not be sending delegates for fear of the spread of coronavirus.

By Wednesday afternoon, more than a dozen companies had already pulled out, including Amazon, Nokia, Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Sony, Intel, Cisco, Vodafone and LG.

“Due to the outbreak and continued concerns about novel coronavirus, Amazon will withdraw from exhibiting and participating in Mobile World Congress 2020,” Amazon said in a statement.

Vodafone announced that: “While the potential risk is hard to quantify accurately at this stage, we have taken this decision because we place the utmost importance in the safety and wellbeing of our employees, customers and partners.”

In a statement, MWC organizer and mobile operator lobbying group GSMA announced: “With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has canceled 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.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Spain’s health minister Slavador Illa refused to declare a public health emergency in the country, where only two cases of coronavirus have been confirmed.

Popular on Variety

The organization had previously stated it would conduct health checks and step up sanitation efforts around the venue and refuse entry to anyone who had been in China in the previous two weeks.

According to the GSMA, the Congress typically hosts between 5,000 and 6,000 guests from China alone, with Huawei being one of the event’s largest exhibitors.

It’s not yet clear who will bear the financial burden of the cancellation, which is sure to have a significant effect on the local economy. Beyond the expenses of the GSMA itself, Catalan media have previously estimated that the event generates €492 million ($546.1 million) for the city and creates about 14,000 temporary jobs.

The statement went on to say: “The host city parties respect and understand this decision. The GSMA and the host city partners will continue to be working in unison and supporting each other for MWC Barcelona 2021 and future editions.”

More Digital

  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren,

    How to Watch the Nevada Democratic Debate Online

    The ninth Democratic presidential debate will take place Wednesday as six hopeful candidates take the stage ahead of the Nevada caucus on Feb. 22. NBC and MSNBC will broadcast the debate on their networks from 6 p.m. PT/ 9 p.m. ET to 8 p.m. PT/ 10 p.m. ET. Those wanting to tune in can also [...]

  • Reed Hastings seen on day one

    Netflix CEO Reed Hastings' New Book Title, Release Date Announced

    Reed Hastings promises to share the untold story about how Netflix’s culture helped it pivot from a DVD-by-mail company to a streaming giant more than a decade ago in a new book due out this spring. “No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention,” is set to be released May 12, 2020. The 320-page [...]

  • A-ha - Take On Me Video

    A-ha's 'Take on Me' Tops 1 Billion YouTube Views, Second '80s Video to Hit Milestone

    Norwegian synthpop trio A-ha’s “Take On Me” has joined YouTube’s billion-views club. The iconic video from A-ha, which combines live action with pencil-sketch animation, is only the second song from the 1980s to reach the elite YouTube milestone, after Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine” crested the one-billion-views mark last fall (and currently has [...]

  • Terms and Conditions

    YouTube Drives Into Feature Doc Space With Brian Hill's 'Terms and Conditions' (EXCLUSIVE)

    YouTube is driving into the feature documentary space with a bold new film on drill music from one of the U.K.’s most celebrated documentarians. The controversial genre represented in the Brian Hill-directed “Terms and Conditions: A U.K. Drill Story” has become inadvertently associated with violence and knife-crime in the U.K., and marks a daring step [...]

  • America Ferrera Gentrified Variety

    With ‘Gentefied,’ America Ferrera Brings a Series Unlike Any Other to Netflix

    America Ferrera had directed before, but not like this. She and her crew were shooting scenes from a massive burner party — think a miniature Burning Man, complete with drugs and costumes and bad dancing — for Netflix’s upcoming series “Gentefied.” Though she wouldn’t appear on camera, Ferrera was dressed for the occasion in a [...]

  • Alamo Drafthouse LA

    Alamo Drafthouse Unveils Monthly Subscription Service

    Alamo Drafthouse, the Texas-based cinema chain that popularized in-theater dining, is offering a subscription service to rival the AMCs and Regals of the exhibition industry. The company unveiled Season Pass, a monthly program that will be available to patrons in its 41 locations across the country. Season Pass will provide one regularly priced ticket per [...]

  • TV Decline Pay TV Placeholder

    Traditional Pay-TV Operators Lost 6 Million Subscribers in 2019 as Cord-Cutting Picks Up Speed

    The U.S. satellite and cable TV business declined at an unprecedented rate last year — with traditional pay-TV providers dropping a staggering 6 million customers, a 7% year-over-year decline. In the fourth quarter of 2019 alone, traditional TV distributors lost around 1.5 million subs, dropping to about 83 million total at year-end, according to estimates [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content