The Mobile World Congress (MWC), one of the world’s largest tech shows that features over 100,000 participants each year, has been canceled due to fears over the Coronavirus. Organizers are now asking that the tech community absorb some of the financial hit, according to a report by Bloomberg.
The decision to cancel the event was reportedly a difficult one to make, but ultimately the organizers felt it was necessary to prioritize public health. The industry body that runs the event, the GSMA, is asking the technology and telecom companies that were planning to participate to band together to absorb the losses incurred from the cancellation.
The MWC was scheduled to run from Feb. 24 to Feb. 27. Many companies have already spent money on flights, hotels, booths and tickets for the event, which would have carried an admission price of $872. The GSMA said it wasn’t sure what, if anything, would be able to be refunded.
“We’re looking for solidarity and everybody bearing their own costs,” said Mats Granryd, the director general of the GSMA. “We’re an NGO and we don’t make a profit. We don’t have huge amounts of funds, and all our proceeds are funneled back into the industry.”
There is another MWC event scheduled in Shanghai on June 30, and so far it is set to move forward. “We do need to make a decision shortly, but not just now,” Granryd said. “It’s going ahead as planned, as of now.” The 2021 MWC in Barcelona is already confirmed to be happening.
Many companies spend millions of dollars to exhibit at the show. The GSMA said it held “lengthy debates” about whether to cancel the show, but that the ultimate decision was respected by everyone.
“I think we have salvaged the relationship with them,” Granryd said, “but it is of course a huge financial downturn for them.”