MWC 2020 in Barcelona officially cancelled by event organizers

This story has been updated to include comments from Cisco. With files from Howard Solomon


Amid concerns of the coronavirus, event organizers have officially cancelled this year’s Mobile World Congress event.

Organized by the GSM Association (GSMA) and set to take place in Barcelona from February 24 to February 27, the event had been in a state of uncertainty for some time with many of the major vendors already pulling out.

The GSMA released an official statement from its CEO explaining their rationale for the decision.

“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,” said John Hoffman in his statement. “The Host City Parties respect and understand this decision. The GSMA and the Host City Parties will continue to be working in unison and supporting each other for MWC Barcelona 2021 and future editions. Our sympathies at this time are with those affected in China, and all around the world.”

Shortly before the official cancellation, Barcelona’s mayor Ada Colau said that the city was “perfectly prepared” for Mobile World Congress to take place and that there was “no reason whatsoever” to apply emergency measures, according to a story from Spanish outlet La Vanguardia.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, after canceling its appearance at Mobile World Congress, Cisco Systems decided to drop out of its own plans to bring four reporters from a number of countries to San Francisco to cover Cisco events in and around this month’s annual RSA Conference.

A reporter from IT World Canada was one of those invited to hear officials speak at the conference, interview senior staff as well as cover a day-long series of security-related presentations on the sidelines of the conference. Other reporters were from Brazil and Australia. Those reporters have been told the trip was off due to concerns about the current outbreak of what is now officially called the COVID-19 virus.

Cisco staff will still speak at the conference and man its trade show exhibit.

“We are truly disappointed that we can no longer host you this year, however, we believe it is the right decision, out of an abundance of caution, given the current circumstances,” Briar Wells, a Cisco Canada spokesperson said in an email to IT World Canada.

We are monitoring the RSA Conference guidance closely. At present, this does not impact Cisco’s participation as an exhibitor at the event.” But in an interview Thursday she noted an upcoming Cisco Live customer conference in Australia was canceled. 

RSA Conference organizers have given no public indication many companies are pulling out.

Six of nine companies from China have so far canceled due to travel restrictions, it said. As of Tuesday, the number of individuals who canceled their registration due to travel restrictions to the U.S. “is approximately 0.2 percent of the total number of expected attendees.”

It isn’t clear how many that is.

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Buckley Smith
Buckley Smith
Staff writer for IT World Canada. Covering the world of technology as it applies to business. Buckley is an avid sports fan who loves travel, food, and music. Can be contacted at [email protected] or 416-290-2000.

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