The world’s largest mobile event is losing some of its biggest names.Amazon (AMZN), Ericsson (ERIC) and Sony (SNE) are withdrawing from this year’s Mobile World Congress because of the risk that attendees could catch the coronavirus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The event, scheduled to take place in Barcelona from February 24-27, is one of the tech industry’s most important annual gatherings. It typically draws more than 100,000 attendees and over 2,400 companies, including the sector’s biggest players whouse it to launch new products and showcase their latest innovations.
But this year it will be missing some of its headline exhibitors including Amazon, one of the world’s handful of $1 trillion companies, in yet another example of the impact that the coronavirus outbreak is having on businesses globally.
“Due to the outbreak and continued concerns about novel coronavirus, Amazon will withdraw from exhibiting and participating in Mobile World Congress 2020,” the company said in a statement. Amazon’s cloud computing arm, Amazon Web Services, was due to host a dozen sessions covering topics such as 5G connectivity and artificial intelligence.
The summit will go ahead as planned,event organizer and mobile operator lobbying group GSMA said in a statement, but it will be restricting access for visitors from China. Despite the withdrawal of “some large exhibitors … we remain more than 2,800 exhibitors strong,” it said.
The association said it would carry out temperature screening and increased cleaning of “high-volume touchpoints,” such as catering areas, bathrooms, speaker microphones, handrails and public touch screens. It said it would double medical support at the venue and won’t admit anyone who has been in China during the two weeks prior to the event.
The coronavirus outbreak has already led to a number of sporting events in Asia being canceled, postponed or relocated. Art Basel Hong Kong, scheduled for mid March, has also been canceled.
Qualcomm warns that ‘uncertainty’ about coronavirus could hit the smartphone industryThis year’s Mobile World Congresscomes as countries in Europe and elsewhere prepare to roll out 5G wireless technology amid an intense debate over the role that China’s Huawei should play in building the super-fast networks.