This year’s E3 is going to be a shadow of its former self, but another great big expo is going away completely in 2020. The writing was on the wall for Mobile World Congress 2020, but now the host organisation, GSMA has made it official. Originally scheduled to run from 24-28 February, MWC 2020 has been cancelled.
“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,” GSMA CEO John Hoffman told Bloomberg. In a further published statement, the organisation said:
Since the first edition of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2006, the GSMA has convened the industry, governments, ministers, policymakers, operators and industry leaders across the broader ecosystem.
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 www.mwcbarcelona.com.
It’s not surprising given the number of high-profile companies that’ve pulled out citing COVID-19 fears. Amazon, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Facebook, HMD, Intel, LG, Nokia, NTT Docomo, Sony and Sprint all recently announced their decisions to skip MWC. With some of the biggest names in the mobile biz bowing out, and the fears around the virus it just makes sense to cancel it.
This will come as a major financial blow not just to the GSMA, but also to the Barcelona tourism industry. The GSMA recently plead with Spanish official to have COVID-19 declared a national emergency so that they’d be able to claim from insurance, but that hasn’t happened and it looks like GSMA is going to have to shoulder some cost. The amount of money that tech companies have spent on planning, set up, accommodation and travel is also largely going to be lost to the ether.
It’s probably the best decision though. The number of COVID-19 cases in China shot up dramatically overnight, just when it looked like new infections had started to plateau. Given that many of the thousands of MWC exhibitors would be coming from Asia, cancelling the event is the most responsible course of action.
Last Updated: February 13, 2020