World Mobile Congress cancelled amid virus fear

Work was well advanced at the exhibition centre before the decision.
Work was well advanced at the exhibition centre before the decision. / EP
  • The Wuhan coronavirus has put paid to the mammoth international trade fair which normally brings in an estimated 500m euros to the area

The coronavirus claimed an economic victim this week. The huge World Mobile Congress, the main global shop window for people in the mobile technology sector, was called off on Wednesday.

The annual event, which has a contract to be held in Barcelona until 2023, was due to be held from 24 to 27 February at the Fira trade- fair complex.

In the days before the cancellation, many big name exhibitors had said they weren't coming to avoid putting their staff at risk. These included Amazon, Ericsson, Facebook and LG. Many attendees were due to travel from Asia.

Faced with this news, the show's organisers, industry-body GSMA, took the drastic step to call it off, despite the Spanish authorities saying it could go ahead but with restrictions on those that had been in China. It means organisers face a multi-million-euro compensation bill for having decided voluntarily and not on forced, public-safety grounds.

There was shock in Barcelona as the event is a major source of income. 100,000 people from 2,800 companies normally take part and an estimated 500 million euros is generated for the local economy.