Coronavirus fears cancel MWC 2020 in Barcelona

Coronavirus fears cancel MWC 2020 in Barcelona
(Image credit: GSMA / MWC)

UPDATE 14 FEB: Japanese photographic event CP+ 2020 has also been cancelled due to the coronavirus, in no small part due to the infected ship containing 2,500 passengers currently quarantined opposite the venue in Yokohama.

ORIGINAL STORY: Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2020, the mega event for the mobile and smartphone industry, has been cancelled by organizers over rising concern about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

iPhone rumors, Samsung Galaxy news and smartphone leaks

MWC 2020 was due to take place from 24-27 February in Barcelona, Spain, with some 100,000 visitors expected to attend. However, the event began to spiral towards cancellation last week when the first of a torrent of exhibitors pulled out of the event.

LG was the first to abandon ship last Wednesday, after the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a global health emergency. That was followed by a wave of exhibitors pulling out – Sony, Amazon, Intel, Cisco, Vivo, Ericsson, HMD / Nokia… all the way up until yesterday, when Facebook and Western Digital scrapped their plans to attend. 

Ultimately, yesterday afternoon, the show organizer GSMA issued a formal announcement that it was pulling the plug on the event.

"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," said John Hoffman, GSMA CEO.

MWC 2020 has been cancelled, throwing product launches into disarray

MWC 2020 has been cancelled, throwing product launches into disarray (Image credit: GSMA / MWC)

"The Host City Parties respect and understand this decision. The GSMA and the host city partners 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." 

So where does this leave all the products that were set to be launched? With MWC being in many ways 'the Photokina of phones', there were many high profile handsets set to be debuted. As of right now, many plans are in disarray – Oppo has already decided to delay a planned product launch until next month. 

The coronavirus is having a huge impact on production and supply chains, with iPhone 11 and iPhone SE2 manufacture being interrupted, and potential chaos for multiple manufacturers caused by disruption to Sony's image sensor production.  

And what of the other upcoming trade events? Also scheduled for the end of this month is CP+ 2020, set to take place in Yokohama, Japan, from 27 February to 01 March. So far there has been no official word from the organizers – though given that Asia is the epicenter of the outbreak, it seems hard to imagine that CP+ won't at least be severely impacted.

And how about The Photography Show 2020, the photo and video supershow taking place in Birmingham from 14-17 March? According to Jonny Sullens, Events Director for the UK event, the show is still going full speed ahead. Unlike MWC and CP+, which featured a significant base of exhibitors from the affected regions, The Photography Show is a local market show with limited direct attendance from Chinese manufacturers.

"Whilst the UK risk level of coronavirus has been increased from low to moderate, the risk to individuals has not changed at this stage and remains low. Events at the NEC are therefore going ahead as planned, and it is business as usual for The Photography Show & The Video Show. We continue to follow advice from the World Health Organization and Public Health England, as well as that of local government and if anything changes then we will respond accordingly."

Read more: 

Coronavirus could disrupt Sony's sensor business – and everyone else's, too
iPhone production threatened by coronavirus – including iPhone SE2
LG pulls out of Mobile World Congress amid coronavirus fears

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.