Japanese mobile operator NTT Docomo, Sony Corp. and the California chip manufacturer Intel Corp. withdrew from the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona on Monday due to the outbreak of the corona virus.
Amazon, the South Korean company LG Electronics, the Swedish device manufacturer Ericsson and the US chip manufacturer Nvidia have already withdrawn from MWC, which had more than 100,000 visitors and more than 2,400 exhibitors in 2019.
MWC takes place from February 24-27 and is the largest annual event for the telecommunications industry. Companies spend millions on stands and entertainment to fill their order books.
The organizer of the GSMA estimated that Barcelona's economy experienced an upswing of around 470 million euros (515 million US dollars) last year. The GSMA had no immediate comment.
The city's largest hotel association, Gremi d & # 39; Hotels de Barcelona, said coronavirus concerns had led to cancellations, but it was too early to quantify the impact on the overall booking.
And Jordi Puignero, the region's digital policy advisor, told local radio station RAC1 that the Catalan regional government is taking "measures to make everything go as usual."
"There is no reason not to be there," he added.
Sources close to the exhibitors stated that participants would have to bear the costs if they resign. The GSMA, an industry association that represents more than 750 operators and 400 companies, is only liable if it cancels the event.
Sony and NTT said in statements that they had withdrawn considering the safety of customers, partners and employees. Sony announced that the kick-off event would take place on video.
NTT did not immediately confirm whether its CEO, Kazuhiro Yoshizawa, would continue to serve as the panel spokesman.
The US-Israeli software provider Amdocs also withdrew from the event on Monday.
"While we appreciate the precautions taken by the (organizer) GSMA, we believe the safest option is not to attend MWC 2020 in Barcelona," said Shuky Sheffer, CEO of Amdocs, in a statement.
Chinese electronics company TCL has announced it will cancel a press event, but will continue to attend MWC and introduce new equipment, while Telenor, Norway, plans to reduce the number of employees present and to reduce the program.
No shaking hands
The GSMA announced on Sunday that no one from the Hubei province in China, where the outbreak of the coronavirus started, was allowed to be present, while visitors from China had to prove that they had been abroad at least two weeks before the event.
These measures complement previous measures to prevent the virus from spreading, including switching the microphones between the speakers and advising all participants not to shake hands.
Coronavirus deaths in mainland China have increased to over 900. More than 40,000 people are infected. More than two dozen countries are struggling with the virus, which has infected more than 330 people outside of China.
In 2019, around 6% of the Mobile World Congress participants came from China, as the GSMA report after the congress showed. Most came from Europe, around 64%, as did about 45% of the exhibitors.
Huawei and ZTE from China have announced their participation. They ordered employees in China to isolate themselves from MWC and hired European employees to cover those who cannot participate from China.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and comes from a syndicated feed.)