Japanese electronics firm Sony is the latest phone maker to announce it’s withdrawing from the Mobile World Congress (MWC) tradeshow — citing concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.
“As we place the utmost importance on the safety and wellbeing of our customers, partners, media and employees, we have taken the difficult decision to withdraw from exhibiting and participating at MWC 2020 in Barcelona, Spain,” Sony wrote in a press release.
MWC is due to take place in Barcelona between February 24-27.
Sony said it will now run a press conference planned for the event remotely, via its official Xperia YouTube channel, at the scheduled time of 8:30am (CET) on February 24.
“Sony would like to thank everyone for their understanding and ongoing support during these challenging times,” it added.
In recent days a number of companies have announced they’re pulling out or scaling back their presence at the conference as a result of concerns about the spread of the virus — including Amazon, Ericsson, LG, NVIDIA and ZTE.
The World Health Organization dubbed the emergence and spread of the novel coronavirus a global emergency late last month.
At the time of writing the majority of infections and deaths from the virus remain in China, where the virus was first identified — in the town of Wuhan in the Hubei province.
Several Chinese tech companies, including ZTE and Xiaomi, have said they will make changes to their participation in MWC related to coronavirus concerns, such as placing limits on staff travelling from China or requiring they self isolate in the period before attending.
Yesterday the organizers of MWC, the GSMA, also announced stringent rules to try to safeguard attendees, including a ban on travellers from Hubei and a requirement that all travellers who have been in China must be able to prove they have been outside the country 14 days prior to the event.
Attendees will also be required to self-certify they have not been in contact with anyone affected, the GSMA said. Temperature screening will also be implemented at the event.
Last year the annual mobile tech conference drew almost 110,000 attendees, from 198 countries.
“While further planning is underway, we will continue to monitor the situation and will adapt our plans according to developments and advice we receive. We are contending with a constantly evolving situation, that will require fast adaptability,” the GSMA also said.
Attendance at MWC has regularly broken 100,000 in recent years but 2020’s conference seems likely to mark a break with business as usual as companies face pressure to rethink their travel priorities.