The Mobile World Congress, organized by industry body GSMA, which is scheduled for February 24-27 and attracts more than 100,000 visitors, has come under increased scrutiny since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus epidemic a public health emergency of global concern.
"We weren't able to guarantee the safety of our employees but also all of the people who will be visiting us at the booth", Ericsson Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Stella Medlicott told Reuters. It is the world's largest trade fair for the wireless industry, which takes place in Barcelona, Spain, on the other side of the world, after the Chinese epicenter of the virus outbreak.
"Given public health risks around the coronavirus, ensuring the safety of our colleagues, partners, and customers is our highest concern", the company said in a blog post.
The statement concludes by restating that the event will proceed as planned across all venues. "In a statement on Friday, it said Ericsson's move will have "some impact on our presence at this time and will potentially have further impact". "Defense of the industry has never been more critical, through government and banks, policy makers, operators and industry leaders".
In this photo from June 26, 2019, visitors visit the Huawei Pavilion at the Mobile World Congress in Shanghai, China.
Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, said that MWC will continue "in a completely normal way" despite the virus and cancellations. There is no vaccine.
The company also announced that in lieu of its participation in MWC, LG will be holding separate events in the near future to announce its 2020 mobile products.
The firm says it took the decision after carrying out an extensive internal risk assessment.
No visitors will be allowed to attend from China's Hubei province, where the coronavirus outbreak started, while visitors from China must prove they have been outside the country for two weeks prior to the event, GSMA said. While there's little sign of a mass exodus in the works, the departure of Ericsson is a blow to the show because it's one of the biggest exhibitors.
He said, however, that there was not much discussion among his customers about the virus.