This was inevitable, and was only a matter of time. GSMA, the collective global telecom body that organises the annual Mobile World Congress, has officially called off the event. The annual tech showdown, which is among the largest of its kind and attracts over 100,000 in footfalls, was supposed to take place from Feb 24th to Feb 27th this year in Barcelona.

In a statement sent to press outlets moments back, GSMA CEO John Hoffman 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.

The statement also made it clear indirectly, that the Mobile World Congress (MWC) won’t be happening this year after all. Hoffman further said, “The GSMA and the Host City Parties will continue to be working in unison and supporting each other for MWC Barcelona 2021 and future editions”.

This cancellation shouldn’t really be a surprise. Multiple news outlets had already started reporting of a virtual meeting that the GSMA decision makers had on the fate of the 2020 conference. And while an official statement was awaited, it was clear that a decision to cancel the event had been made.

Several top names pulled out from the event on a daily basis as the coronvarius outbreak continued to engulf more people in China. The death toll has gone past 1100, WHO has already declared it an emergency and despite China’s efforts, its controversial media censorship tactics have resulted in the outbreak spreading like wildfire.

Some of the companies that announced they wouldn’t be attending include Nokia, Amazon, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Facebook, HMD, Intel, LG, NTT Docomo, Sony and Sprint among others.

Here’s the full statement from GSMA on cancellation:

Since the first edition of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2006, the GSMA has convened the industry, governments, ministers, policymakers, operators and industry leaders across the broader ecosystem.

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.

The Host City Parties respect and understand this decision.

The GSMA and the Host City Parties will continue to be working in unison and supporting each other for MWC Barcelona 2021 and future editions.

Our sympathies at this time are with those affected in China, and all around the world.

Further updates from the GSMA, are on our website and can be found on www.mwcbarcelona.com.

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