MWC exodus continues as Ericsson pulls out

Telecommunications firm Ericsson has become the latest company to pull out of Mobile World Congress (MWC) over fears for the “health and safety of its employees” due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

The show usually attracts nearly 110,000 people from countries around the world, with Chinese nationals and others from the Asia Pacific region making up around 16 per cent of that number. But earlier this week South Korean firm LG said it would not attend the show due to the virus and ZTE reduced the number of staff attending when compared to previous years.

“After an extensive internal risk assessment, Ericsson has decided to take further precautionary measures by withdrawing from MWC Barcelona 2020, the largest event in the telecom industry,” the Swedish company said in a statement.

“Ericsson appreciates that GSMA have done everything they can to control the risk. However, as one of the largest exhibitors, Ericsson has thousands of visitors in its hall each day and even if the risk is low, the company cannot guarantee the health and safety of its employees and visitors.”

It said it would instead showcase the demos and content planned for MWC in a series of local events.

A number of other technology heavyweights, including Sony, Samsung, Huawei and Microsoft, are still due to appear at MWC.

In a statement event organiser GSMA said the event would proceed as planned.

“The GSMA regret to see Ericsson’s decision not to attend MWC Barcelona this year as they are an important player in our ecosystem,” it added.

“We respect their decision and are reassured by their commitment that they will be at MWC Barcelona 2021 in full force, and our rebook trends for next year’s event remain high.

“Ericsson’s cancellation will have some impact on our presence at this time and will potentially have further impact.”

As well as drawing large numbers of visitors, MWC usually gives a €450m (£386m) lift to the local economy as delegates throng to the Fira trade fairgrounds, wine and dine contacts and criss-cross Barcelona by taxi.

The mayor of Barcelona expressed confidence that the congress would go ahead as normal.

“I would recommend that we listen to the experts, scientists and health authorities who tell us that the (event) can go on with complete normality,” mayor Ada Colau told broadcaster La Sexta.

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