The GSMA Yields to rising corona virus fears and cancels MWC event

Corona virus fears

It has been the subject of much controversy lately and yesterday the corona virus impacted the world of Telecoms. After a succession of pull-outs and rising concern that the Barcelona Mobile World Congress would be a global mixing pot for the virus, the GSMA cancelled the event.

One of the main pull-outs happened last week when one of the events largest exhibitors, Ericsson pulled out – stating it would host smaller more intimate events to convey messages. Ericsson claimed they were worried about their inability to guarantee the health and safety of both employees and conference attendees.

However on Wednesday the floodgates opened and multiple big names confirmed they would no longer be attending. Ericsson was joined by Nokia, BT, DT and also Vodafone as all confirmed their defection.

Insurance complications have also come to light and have caused disagreements between the mayor of Barcelona and the GSMA as neither the World Health Organisation (WHO) nor the Spanish government have declared an emergency.

The GSMA had also considered pulling the plug previously, but was worried it would accused of pulling the plug too early and then getting sued by numerous Barcelona hoteliers.

The GSMA released a statement on their website:

“12 February 2020, Barcelona: 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 corona virus 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.”

The MWC (Mobile World Congress) generates around 14,000 temporary jobs in Barcelona and makes €492 million (almost £414m) for the city, according to a report from El Pais.

Barcelona’s mayor Ada Colau said on Wednesday afternoon that the city was “perfectly prepared” for Mobile World Congress to take place, and that there remained “no reason whatsoever” to apply emergency measures, according to a report by Spanish outlet La Vanguardia.

Those measures, it seems, were deemed insufficient.