World's biggest mobile tech show cancelled due to coronavirus fears

This year's edition of MWC Barcelona, the world's biggest mobile industry gathering, has been canceled less than two weeks before its opening, devastated by the pull-out of major exhibitors over concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.

A spokesperson for Facebook said, "Out of an abundance of caution, Facebook employees won't be attending this year's Mobile World Congress due to the evolving public health risks related to coronavirus".

Nokia said this week that it's pulling out of MWC 2020 over health and safety concerns.

The biggest smartphone conference of the year was just canceled. Likewise, HMD Global - which designs and markets phones under the Nokia brand name - put out a statement that it's dropping out, too.

The fair was cancelled over fears about the transfer of novel coronavirus, the deadly virus that recently emerged from China's Wuhan province.

Sony's departure from MWC leaves a pretty big hole in the event's schedule. Sony says its press conference will still be on, but that it will be a video-only event hosted on its Xperia YouTube channel.

The GSMA telecoms association that hosts the Barcelona get-together faced a dilemma after local health authorities said they saw no reason to cancel the February 24-27 event, the biggest on the industry's annual calendar.

The convention, originally scheduled for February 24 to 27, was shelved "with due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country", said John Hoffman, CEO of organizer GSMA, in a Wednesday press release, adding that "the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible to hold the event". The organization overseeing the event may decide to go on but introduce extra measures to protect attendees. We were originally expecting devices from manufacturers like Xiaomi, Huawei, Oppo, and many more.

"The host city parties respect and understand this decision", reads the official GSMA statement.

"MWC is the event where major mobile tech companies discuss their vision and show off their capabilities", said Nicole Peng, vice-president of mobility at research firm Canalys.

Some companies aren't taking any chances with the coronavirus outbreak, which has claimed 1,100 lives and spread to more than 45,000 people, according to a site tracking the disease.

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