The coronavirus has a new victim: the world’s largest phone show.
Mobile World Congress (MWC) — the annual convention where smartphone makers from around the world come to hawk their wares — was scheduled to take place in Barcelona on Feb. 24, but was canceled due to fears surrounding the viral epidemic.
In a statement to Bloomberg, CEO of MWC organizer GSMA John Hoffman said that it would be “impossible” to hold the event due to “global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak.”
The conference was set to draw more than 110,000 participants to the Spanish city, including thousands of delegates from China. But as the coronavirus has spread in recent weeks — more than 40,000 people have been infected globally and more than 1,100 have died from it — big names began to pull out.
“Our sympathies at this time are with those affected in China, and all around the world,” Hoffman said.
Facebook yanked its employees from the event, citing “evolving public health risks related to the coronavirus,” while Intel backed out “out of an abundance of caution.” Other companies, including Amazon, Nokia, Cisco and Sony, pulled out of the conference before its cancellation.
Spanish media earlier Wednesday had reported that MWC organizers would be convening Friday morning to make a decision on the status of the show — a mere 10 days before it was set to begin.
The show was expected to have an economic impact of more than $530 million on Barcelona, according to the organizing body.