ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Coronavirus

Sony, NTT latest to pull out of Barcelona congress over coronavirus

Japanese companies join Amazon, LG Electronics and others to withdraw from MWC

An employee places a banner with information of MWC20 (Mobile World Congress) in Barcelona, Spain Feb. 5.   © Reuters

BARCELONA (Reuters) -- Japan's largest wireless carrier, NTT Docomo, and Sony on Monday became the latest companies to pull out of an international telecoms conference in Barcelona this month because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Six firms have now withdrawn from The Mobile World Congress (MWC), which last year attracted more than 100,000 visitors and upwards of 2,400 exhibitors, and is due to take place on Feb 24-27.

The conference ranks as the telecom industry's biggest gathering, with companies spending millions on stands and hospitality to fill their order books for the year ahead.

NTT and Sony join Amazon, South Korea's LG Electronics, Swedish equipment maker Ericsson and U.S. chipmaker Nvidia, which have already said they will not attend this year's event.

GSMA, the conference organiser, had no immediate comment.

Sources close to exhibitors told Reuters that if participants decide to cancel, they would have to bear the cost. The GSMA would only be liable if it calls off the whole conference.

Sony said its launch event would be held via video.

"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," it said in a statement.

NTT said in a statement that it had withdrawn after taking into consideration the safety of its customer, partners and staff.

It did not immediately confirm whether its chief executive, Kazuhiro Yoshizawa, would continue as a speaker in the main opening keynote panel of the conference.

GSMA said on Sunday that no-one from China's Hubei province, where the coronavirus outbreak began, would be allowed to attend, while visitors from China must prove they have been outside the country for at least two weeks prior to the event.

These measures add to earlier actions aimed at preventing the spread of the virus across the conference's three main venues, including changing microphones between speakers and advising all attendees not to shake hands.

The death toll from coronavirus in mainland China has risen above 900, with more than 40,000 people infected. More than two dozen countries are grappling with the virus, which has infected more than 330 people outside China.

Spain has two cases confirmed on islands off the mainland.

In 2019, some 6% of Mobile World Congress attendees were from China, GSMA's post-congress report showed. Most were from Europe, around 64%, as were about 45% of the exhibitors.

China's Huawei and ZTE have said they will attend, ordering China-based staff to self-isolate ahead of MWC and drafting in European staff to cover for those not able to attend from China.

The GSMA, an industry association representing more than 750 operators and 400 companies in the mobile business, estimates that the MWC boosted the Barcelona economy by around 470 million euros ($515 million) last year.

A Catalan regional government official ruled out that the event could be cancelled or postponed.

"We are taking measures so that everything proceeds as normal ... There is no reason to not attend," the region's digital policy councillor, Jordi Puignero, told local radio station RAC1. 

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends July 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media