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Mobile World Congress 2020 canceled due to coronavirus outbreak

Image Credit: Mobile World Congress

The GSM Association has decided to cancel this year's Mobile World Congress, citing the health and safety of the city of Barcelona and show attendees as a major concern.

For the first time in 33 years, Mobile World Congress (MWC) has had to call off the event, which annually draws in over 100,000 participants.

In early February, big-name attendees started to pull out of the event to prevent unnecessary risks to their staff due to the ongoing 2019 Coronavirus outbreak. Sony, Nokia, LG, Intel, Amazon, were among some of the first to cancel.

The outbreak, which has lasted about three months, appears to be just short of the peak of its spread. The WHO has confirmed at least 45,171 cases with over 1,115 deaths, with a recent slowdown.

The GSM Association had initially wanted to continue MWC 2020. It had previously released a statement that disclosed preventative measures being taken to eliminate any potential spread of the disease.

However, with many major players no longer attending and the safety of the surrounding city at stake, the conference organizers have decided that it would be better to cancel the show this year.

"The global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible" to hold the event, John Hoffman, chief executive officer of conference organizer GSMA, said in a statement to Bloomberg News.

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus, termed "2019-nCoV" for short, is a type of coronavirus responsible for causing respiratory distress in the infected. Symptoms are typically flu-like, with a fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Those infected can go on to develop life-threatening pneumonia.