Ericsson pulls out of Mobile World Congress for coronavirus worries
Amazon, LG and Nvidia also pull out, while government moves to reassure attendees
Swedish technology giant Ericsson has cancelled its participation at this year’s Mobile World Congress, due to take place in Barcelona from February 24-27.
In a press release, the company cited worries over the coronavirus epidemic as their reasons for not taking part, adding they are unable to guarantee the health and safety of their workers or of visitors.
The move comes days after South Korean multinational electronics company LG also pulled out of the mobile industry trade show for the same reasons.
Ericsson president and CEO Börje Ekholm said that the health and safety of his employees, customers and other related people is "the highest priority" and that this was not a decision made "lightly."
He added that they were "anxious" to present their innovations at the Mobile World Congress but insisted that this was the "most responsible" decision.
The company has also announced that it will hold local events under the title 'Ericsson Unboxed' to present and demonstrate the innovations that were to be presented in Barcelona.
Ericsson argued that they followed the recommendations of health administrations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), and had so far taken precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of workers and to minimize the impact of virus in the company.
However, the company believed it was necessary to take this "added precaution" and cancel his participation in Barcelona.
In a press conference on Friday evening the Catalan government attempted to reassure those travelling to Barcelona for the congress. Health minister Alba Vergés said "the system is totally ready to detect and treat" a possible case of the virus. "There is no objective reason not to come," insisted Joan Guix of the health service.
Health and sanitary points will be more visible at the fair than in other years, with hand disinfectant available.
US company Nvidia pulls out
Despite those assurances from officials, US company Nvidia announced they would also be pulling out of the trade fair.
The company, which manufactures graphics ships and graphics cards said it will not be sending any employees to Barcelona due to concerns around the coronavirus. In a short statement released on their website, Nvidia said that "ensuring the safety of our colleagues, partners and customers is our highest concern."
They added that they "regret not attending one of the world’s most important technology conferences but believe this is the right decision."
The Mobile World Congress is expected to see over 110,000 visitors come to the Catalan capital from over 200 different countries and territories.
In what will be a huge blow to organisers, on Sunday evening Amazon announced that it too would not be participating in the trade fair, again due to coronavirus concerns. "Due to the outbreak and ongoing concerns about coronavirus, Amazon will withdraw from exhibiting and participating in MWC 2020," a statement read.