Global tech conference canceled amid coronavirus fears

The Mobile World Congress, one of the world's largest technology trade shows, was canceled less than two weeks before it was slated to begin in Barcelona, after participants such as Amazon and Intel dropped out citing concerns over the spread of coronavirus.

In a Feb. 12 statement, MWC organizer GSMA said, "With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event."

Among the major tech companies that announced they were pulling out of the event before GSMA's announcement were Amazon, Facebook, Sony, Intel, LG Electronics, Nvidia and McAfee, all of whom expressed concerns about COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus from China.

Approximately 6,000 of the event's 100,000 attendees were expected to be traveling from China; GSMA had previously asked that all attendees from China be quarantined for the two weeks before the event, which was scheduled for Feb. 24-27.

Rather than postponing the event, GSMA said in its statement that it has shifted its focus to planning the 2021 summit. In the past, MWC has served as a setting for tech giants to showcase their digital health strategies, with Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM and more doing so at the 2019 event.

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