One of the biggest exhibitors at Mobile World Congress 2020 has decided the risk posed by the corona virus outbreak is too great.
Ericsson’s stand occupies half an entire hall at the biggest telecoms trade show of the year, so its decision to pull out just two weeks before it’s due to start is a major blow. As you would expect, the networking vendor has been keeping an eye on the spread of the novel form of the virus, for which there is currently no vaccine. It has decided that having so many people crammed together for a week is just too great a risk.
“The health and safety of our employees, customers and other stakeholders are our highest priority,” said Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm (pictured above at last year’s MWC). “This is not a decision we have taken lightly. We were looking forward to showcasing our latest innovations at MWC in Barcelona. It is very unfortunate, but we strongly believe the most responsible business decision is to withdraw our participation from this year’s event.”
Of even greater significance will be the precedent this sets, following the announcements from LG and ZTE earlier this week. It’s now highly likely that other exhibitors will follow suit and that the show itself could be cancelled. The GSMA, which runs MWC, is in a very difficult position and if the epidemic continues to spread rapidly it come under increasing pressure to call the whole thing off.