Financial impact of virus plays out before global tech fair

1010 WINS Newsroom
February 11, 2020 - 1:39 pm

A worker fixes a poster announcing the Mobile World Congress 2020 in a conference venue in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. Intel Mobile is the latest company announcing that is pulling out of the Mobile World Congress scheduled to be held in Barcelona in late February. Authorities still seem to be committed to hold it, meeting foreign diplomats on Tuesday to brief on the efforts to prevent any spread of the new coronavirus virus during the industry show. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

LONDON (AP) — The impact on travel and commerce from the viral outbreak in China is playing out ahead of one of the world's biggest technology fairs scheduled for later this month in Europe.

U.S. tech giants Cisco Systems and Intel, the U.S. wireless carrier Sprint, along with the Chinese smartphone maker Vivo, said Tuesday that they have pulled out of the Mobile World Congress, which is to take place Feb. 24-27 in Barcelona, Spain.

This year's event was expected to host the largest contingent on record from China.

“The safety and wellbeing of all our employees and partners is our top priority, and we have withdrawn from this year’s Mobile World Congress out of an abundance of caution," Intel said by email.

Already, Ericsson, Amazon, Sony and LG have scrapped plans to attend what has become the world's biggest mobile industry trade show. It was expected to attract more than 100,000 visitors, including 5,000-6,000 from China, the source of the viral outbreak that has infected tens of thousands of people and killed more than 1,000.

Event organizers for the Mobile World Congress have prohibited anyone traveling from the Hubei province, home to the virus epicenter of Wuhan. Attendees who have traveled in China must prove that they have not been there in the two weeks prior to the event.

Officials will be doing temperature screenings at the event, as well as increasing its efforts to disinfect high traffic areas and surfaces, like touch screens and handrails.

The cancellations will have an economic impact on Barcelona, the host city, though the extent is not known. The show was expected to generate 492 million euros ($538 million) this year, according to organizer GSMA, an industry trade group, and create more than 14,000 part-time jobs.

“While further planning is underway, we will continue to monitor the situation and will adapt our plans according to developments and advice we receive,” the GMSA said in a prepared statement." We are contending with a constantly evolving situation, that will require fast adaptability."

AP Editorial Categories: