Barcelona won’t cancel Mobile World Congress despite fears over coronavirus

A worker with a protective mask leaves the convention center during preparations for next Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, Spain, 10 February 2020. [EPA/ANDREU DALMAU]

The Barcelona city council has said there will be neither cancellation nor delays to the Mobile World Congress (BMWC), due to start on 24 February, despite concerns over the coronavirus crisis and a cascade of cancellations from tech giants, EURACTIV’s partner EuroEFE reports.

On Tuesday, Intel and Chinese tech company Vivo added their names to a growing list of companies that cancelled their participation to the Mobile World Congress over health risks related to the coronavirus.

The day before, Japanese tech giant Sony and US chip manufacturer Intel announced their decision to pull out of the Mobile World Congress over fears of a coronavirus outbreak.

Intel joined American behemoth Amazon, US tech firm Nvidia, Sweden’s Ericsson, and South Korea’s LG in withdrawing their participation.

Britain’s Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom, meanwhile, are seriously considering their presence.

The organisers of the congress, the international association of manufacturers of mobile devices, will meet on Friday to decide if extra measures need to be taken to guarantee the safety of the event, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported.

GSMA to decide on Mobile World Congress cancellation, amid coronavirus concerns

GSMA, the global mobile network industry group, is set to make a decision on Friday (14 February) as to whether this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona will go ahead, amid concerns that the event may aggravate Europe’s management of the deadly coronavirus.


The Mobile World Congress is of high importance for Barcelona, generating €492 million in revenue and about 14,000 part-time jobs.

The novel coronavirus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan has claimed more than 900 lives and has infected more than 40,000 people. The virus has been detected in Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates, India, Cambodia, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Several cases have been reported in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Spain has reported two cases. In France, 11 cases have been confirmed.

On Monday, French news agency AFP reported the case of a British man who caught the virus while attending a conference in Singapore and then passed it on to several compatriots while on holiday in the French Alps, before finally being diagnosed back in the UK.

EU to test its readiness to face Coronavirus at extraordinary meeting

The European Union will hold an extraordinary meeting of health ministers on Thursday (13) to assess its preparedness in case Coronavirus hits for good the bloc.  

[Edited by Frédéric Simon]

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