Coronavirus fears spur dozens of companies to bail on MWC Barcelona

Amazon, Sony, Intel, LG Electronics and Nvidia withdraw from Mobile World Congress, but as for now, event organizer GSMA still plans to host the event Feb. 24-27.

The front entrance of Mobile World Congress 2018.The Mobile

The front entrance of Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona.

Image: SOPA Images/Getty

Amazon and Intel are the latest companies to pull out of Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona because of concerns over the coronavirus. 

The world's largest mobile trade show takes place Feb. 24-27 and draws more than 100,000 visitors. 

Amazon joins other powerhouse companies Sony, LG Electronics, US chipmaker Nvidia, ZTE and Ericsson, which also announced they will not attend. 

SEE: Coronavirus having major effect on tech industry beyond supply chain delays (free TechRepublic PDF)

More than 42,000 people have been infected with the pneumonia-like illness, which has also claimed over 1,000 lives, CNET reported.

In a statement announcing its decision not to attend MWC, Amazon said, "Due to the outbreak and continued concerns about the novel coronavirus, Amazon will withdraw from exhibiting and participating in Mobile World Congress 2020."  

Intel confirmed today it will not attend MWC either "out of an abundance of caution," CNET reported.

Meanwhile, the event's organizer and mobile operator lobbying group, GSMA, released a statement saying it is moving forward with plans to host the conference.

"While the GSMA confirms some large exhibitors have decided not to come to the show this year with others still contemplating next steps, we remain more than 2,800 exhibitors strong," the statement said.

However, Reuters cited an industry source and has reported that GSMA is holding a board meeting on Friday, February 14, to discuss possible cancellation of MWC. 

SEE: 3D map shows how the coronavirus is spreading worldwide  (TechRepublic)

In addition to "all of the health and safety measures put in place," other steps the GSMA has taken include prohibiting access to all travelers from China's Hubei province; implementing temperature screening; requiring proof from all travelers who have been in China that they have not been in the country for two weeks before the event; and self-certification from attendees that they have not been in contact with anyone infected with the coronavirus.

In a statement last week announcing its decision not to attend MWC, Ericsson said "the health and safety of employees, customers and other stakeholders is the company's top priority."

Other companies that have canceled include: Nvidia, NTT DoCoMo, CommScope, Accedian, Amdocs, Viavi Solutions, Umidigi, Coosea Group, Panorama Software, Ulefone, Dali Wireless, Ciena, InterDigital, LG and Vivo, according to published reports. Samsung has reportedly scaled back plans for the event, but it hasn't made its intentions public to date.

Many other companies with major presences at the show are still contemplating their plans. The list of potential no-shows includes major operators and software vendors, chipmakers, and cloud providers. Large US-based companies like AT&T, Microsoft, Verizon, Cisco, IBM, and VMware have not provided any updates so far.

Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE have said they still plan to exhibit and hold meetings at MWC Barcelona but ZTE has canceled its press conference. 

Both companies have ordered China-based staff to self-isolate ahead of the event to ensure they are free of the illness, according to Reuters. The two companies have also reportedly drafted European staff to cover for those who are stranded.

The coronavirus has spread to at least 27 countries and territories, according to a Reuters count based on official reports, infecting more than 330 people outside China. Two deaths have been reported outside mainland China, both of Chinese nationals.

This article was updated and republished with additional information on Feb. 11, 2020.

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