Top mobile trade fair cancelled

February 14, 2020

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BARCELONA: Cancelling the world’s top mobile trade fair was the “only option” in the face of “force majeure” after coronavirus fears prompted dozens of companies to bolt the upcoming show, organisers said on Thursday.

GSMA, the mobile trade association that organises the annual show, said late on Wednesday it was calling off the massive trade show that was to run in Barcelona between Feb 24-27, and slated to draw around 110,000 participants.

Mobile World Congress 2020 is one of the biggest events worldwide to be cancelled so far due to the virus.

“We looked at the data and yesterday we concluded that the vast majority of those who planned to attend were not going to be there,” GSMA chief executive John Hoffman told a press conference in Barcelona.

“We looked at postponing the event, and again while it sounds good, it’s impossible to predict when this situation is going to concluded. Therefore it could not be done.”

But over the past week, the number of companies pulling out has spiralled, despite repeated assurances from the Spanish government and local authorities that the health risk was low in a country where only two off-shore coronavirus cases have been detected.

Just hours before the announcement, Vodafone, Nokia, Deutsche Telekom, Britain’s BT and Rakuten of Japan pulled out, following in the footsteps of Intel, Facebook, Cisco and China’s Vivo.

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2020