On Monday, February 10, 2020, two Japanese companies, NTT Docomo Inc. (NTT), and Sony Corp. (Sony) also withdrew from participating in the international telecoms conference to be held in the last week of this month in Barcelona, Spain. For now, six companies have pulled out from the conference due to issues related to the coronavirus outbreak. Despite the series of withdrawal, the organizer of the conference is likely to go ahead with the scheduled timing.
Withdrawal by Six Companies
Apart from the two Japanese companies, other four companies namely US-based Amazon.com, South Korea’s LG Electronics, Swedish equipment maker Ericsson, and US chipmaker Nvidia have already confirmed that they would not attend this year’s the Mobile World Congress (MWC).
The conference is considered to be the World’s largest exhibition for the telecom industry where several leaders, executives, experts, and content owners around the globe gathered for mobile and its related technology display. Last year, more than 100,000 visitors and of 2,400 exhibitors participated in the events.
Although the GSM Association (GSMA), the organizer of the conference had declined to comment on it, a source told Reuters that in case of canceling their participation from the events, the companies had to bear the cost. However, the cost can be curbed only when the GSMA cancels the whole events of the conference.
In this year’s conference of MWC, which is scheduled to take place on February 24-27, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain; Sony officials said they would observe the launching of the events through video calling. Explaining the reason, the officials said, “As we place the utmost importance on the safety and wellbeing of our customers, partners, media, and employees, we have taken the difficult decision to withdraw from exhibiting and participating at MWC 2020.”
Similarly, NTT said in a statement that the reason for withdrawal from the events was because it ensured first priority for the safety of its customers, partners, and staff. Meanwhile, it is not yet confirmed whether the NTT”s chief executive, Kazuhiro Yoshizawa would be delivering his speech in the main opening keynote of the events.
GSMA is Unlikely to Cancel the Conference
GSMA had already announced on Sunday that nobody from China’s Hubei province was allowed to attend the conference to avoid the possibility of virus infections. Keeping the aim at preventing the spread of the virus in the three main venues of the conference, some precautions steps were announced including changing microphones between speakers and advising the participants not to greet one another through a handshake or physical contact.
GSMA’s post-congress report showed that the Chinese represented only 6% of Mobile World Congress attendees in 2019 while the major participants were from Europe representing around 64% out of which about 45% were the exhibitors in the last year. Meanwhile, China’s Huawei and ZTE have announced that they would attend the MWC and chosen selected candidates for the events.
According to Reuters, “The GSMA, an industry association representing more than 750 operators and 400 companies in the mobile business, estimates that the MWC boosted the Barcelona economy by around 470 million euros ($515 million) last year.”
A source told Reuters that a Catalan regional government official indicated that the events would be continued as per the scheduled time decided and excluded the possibility of canceling or postponing. The region’s digital policy councilor, Jordi Puignero, told local radio station RAC1, “We are taking measures so that everything proceeds as normal … There is no reason to not attend.”
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