Swedish telecom gear maker Ericsson on Friday pulled out of worldwide industry event GSMA Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2020 due to outbreak of novel coronavirus across several countries and continued spreading of the infection.
The organizers of the show, GSMA, said it regretted and respected Ericsson's decision to withdraw.
The Swedish company made the decision with the health and safety of employees and attendees in mind, as well as to minimise the impact of the virus on business operations. We were looking forward to showcasing our latest innovations at MWC in Barcelona. The company said in a press release on Friday that the demonstrations and content created for the program would be shown at local "Ericsson Unboxed" events at a later date. But those companies have huge workforces in China; Ericsson is based in Sweden and is the first European company to withdraw from the event.
But this year is bound to be different.
"I hope there are no more announcements like those" by Ericsson and LG", Colau told Catalan television channel TV3 on Friday.
South Korea's LG Electronics, Ericsson, the Swedish telecoms equipment-maker, and United States chip company NVIDIA have all withdrawn from the conference, which runs between 24 and 27 February. It's the world's biggest wireless industry trade fair, held in Barcelona, Spain, on the other side of the globe from the virus outbreak's Chinese epicentre.
The health and safety of our employees, customers and other stakeholders are our highest priority. The virus originated from Wuhan, China, but has already spread to dozens of countries, which is why travelling has been restricted and big gatherings, like Mobile World Congress, remain a cause of concern.
Companies often build elaborate stands to show off their wares and thousands attend the event that is a key gathering for executives to discuss industry developments.
GSMA continued: "Advocating across the industry through government and ministers, policymakers, operators and industry leaders has never been more critical".
"Ericsson's cancellation will have some impact on our presence at this time and will potentially have further impact", the group said.
The Singapore Airshow, which is due to open on Tuesday, has also seen major firms pull out of the event, including U.S. aerospace giant Lockheed Martin.
Unless GSMA postpones the event altogether, MWC 2020 will take place in Barcelona, between February 24 - 27. In addition to its health risks, the coronavirus has had a domino effect on global companies and industries.