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Mobile World Congress axed after firms quit over coronavirus fears

  1. Coronavirus outbreak – latest updates Amazon, BT and Nokia among big names to pull out of mobile phone fair in Barcelona Mark Sweney @marksweney Email Wed 12 Feb 2020 19.13 GMTLast modified on Thu 13 Feb 2020 14.36 GMT Shares 123 The Mobile World Congress was scheduled to take place on 24 February. Photograph: Lluís Gené/AFP/Getty 📷 The world’s largest mobile phone trade fair, Mobile World Congress, has been cancelled after scores of the world’s biggest technology and telecommunications companies pulled out over fears of the spread of the coronavirus.The MWC, which was due to be held in Barcelona on 24 February, was expecting more than 100,000 delegates from about 200 countries across the four days of the conference.On Wednesday, GSMA, which organises the congress, was forced to admit it would have to axe this year’s event after more than 40 companies pulled out citing health and safety concerns.Show Q&AHow can I protect myself from the coronavirus outbreak? The list of no-shows had grown to become a who’s who of the world’s biggest tech and telco firms including BT, the owner of mobile firm EE, Facebook, Nokia, Ericsson, the US chipmaker Intel, Cisco, Amazon, Vodafone and Germany’s Deutsche Telekom.The Chinese firm Huawei, the controversial smartphone and 5G component maker that was scheduled to be one of the event’s biggest exhibitors, had flown employees to Spain to self-quarantine in advance.The GSMA had banned travellers from Hubei, the province at the centre of the virus outbreak. Approximately 5,000-6,000 (5-6%) of the attendees each year have come from China. The trade show’s organisers had attempted to allay concerns by announcing more stringent health and safety measures including a ban on handshakes, and taking attendees’ temperatures. However, this appeared to backfire, galvanising companies who had been monitoring the situation to confirm they would pull out. 📷 2017's top business stories: Whole Foods, hackers and a giant rabbit Read more John Hoffman, the chief executive of GSMA, said the virus had made it impossible to hold the event.“The GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concerns and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event,” said Hoffman. “The host city parties respect and understand this decision. The GSMA and the host city partners will continue to be working in unison and supporting each other for MWC Barcelona 2021 and future editions.”The organisation may have to bear the cost of a full cancellation unless the Spanish government changes its position on the coronavirus and moves to declare a health alert.It will also represent a significant loss to Barcelona and the city’s hospitality industry. The show is estimated to be worth about €500m (£420m) to the city and provides 14,000 part-time jobs for local workers. We won’t let Brexit come between us… … and we hope you feel the same. These are turbulent, decade-defining times, with so many crises that it can be demoralising. The climate emergency, nativism, the rise of the far right, poverty, tax avoidance, social injustice - the biggest problems in Europe are issues that transcend national borders. But we are a news organisation that transcends borders too. In order to understand these issues fully and find solutions, we need to view them as a whole. The Guardian's international, independent journalism seeks to join up the dots, to provide a comprehensive view.More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. 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Support The Guardian 📷 TopicsMobile World Congress Telecommunications industry Telecoms Amazon Nokia BT Coronavirus outbreak news Share on LinkedInShare on Pinterest Reuse this content Subscribe now📷 Read The Guardian without interruption on all your devices more on this story WHO scrambling to get details of new cases – as it happened 📷 WHO scrambling to get details of new cases – as it happened 20h London coronavirus patient turned up at hospital in Uber taxi 📷 London coronavirus patient turned up at hospital in Uber taxi 23h False rumours on coronavirus could cost lives, say researchers 📷 False rumours on coronavirus could cost lives, say researchers 17h 'We're free': Wuhan evacuees celebrate leaving UK quarantine 📷 'We're free': Wuhan evacuees celebrate leaving UK quarantine 22h Coronavirus: China purges regional leaders hours after spike in deaths and cases Coronavirus: China purges regional leaders hours after spike in deaths and cases 1d Coronavirus: medical chief says UK hopes to delay any outbreak until summer Coronavirus: medical chief says UK hopes to delay any outbreak until summer 1d How the coronavirus spread across China and the world – visual explainer How the coronavirus spread across China and the world – visual explainer 1d How to protect yourself from coronavirus How to protect yourself from coronavirus 3 Feb 2020 Most popular

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