Industry sources say MWC is on the brink of being cancelled

Orange has joined a growing list of high-profile technology companies withdrawing from MWC in Barcelona amid concerns about the outbreak of coronavirus COVID-19.

Over the course of the past week, companies including Nokia, Facebook, Intel, Sony, Amazon, LG, AT&T, Cisco, Amdocs and Ericsson have all confirmed they will no longer attend the event. In addition, other companies have said they are scaling back their activities, or sending European-based employees to the event.

Ben Stanton, a senior tech analyst at Canalys, highlighted the significance of Orange’s CEO, Stéphane Richard, also being the head of the GSMA. He said, “Orange withdrawing from MWC does fit with the media narrative that the GSMA wants to cancel, but needs to find a financial solution first.”

WIRED reported that GSMA is lobbying the Spanish government to declare a health emergency earlier today. It has been said that the organisation will not be able to claim back insurance on MWC if Catalonian authorities do not do so.

Stanton discussed the possibility that the situation might lead to GSMA considering other locations for future MWC events. He said, “This could sour relations between the government and GSMA, which might benefit another major European city in the coming years.”

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