The show had already been under scrutiny when names such as LG and ZTE either reduced their presence or entirely removed themselves from the show. The writing was on the wall when the likes of Nvidia, Intel, Sony, Amazon and BT all subsequently announced they would not be attending MWC.
GSMA had attempted to cool fears by declaring several measures put in place, ranging from heightened disinfection to advising attendees to adopt a ‘no-handshake policy’.
However, with the number of reported Coronavirus cases now exceeding 42,000 and over 1,000 fatalities from the infection, GSMA CEO John Hoffman said that it had become impossible to host the event.
In a statement, Hoffman confirmed the decision, saying: “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.”
While the majority of cases of the virus have been in China, it has now spread to 25 countries, and with over 100,000 people from 200 countries expected to attend the event GSMA decided to pull the plug.
It had been reported that GSMA had attempted to lobby the Spanish government to declare a health emergency. This would have allowed GSMA to claim back insurance on losses incurred by cancelling the event.
Local paper La Vanguardia followed this by citing Barcelona mayor Ada Colau, who stated that there was “no reason whatsoever” to declare a state of emergency, and that the city was “perfectly prepared” to host the event.
With the showcase now cancelled, Barcelona is set to miss out on €492 million – the estimated amount of money generated for the city by the event.