The coronavirus outbreak is shaking up MWC quite a bit, as many major companies have already withdrawn from the event slated to start February 24. It looks like this has lead fair organizer GSMA to plead with the Spanish government to declare a health emergency so it can cancel the event.
Wired reports that sources close to the GSMA say the body is currently in talks with the Catalonian government to help it cancel the event. The outlet "understands that the GSMA no longer wants to go ahead with MWC." However, the issue is that if the GSMA cans MWC on its own, it might be hit with a massive cancelation bill. If the event is disrupted by a health emergency, though, the GSMA could claim insurance money. Since this plan is now out in the open, it remains to be seen whether the insurance companies could refute the request as having been made in bad faith.
The GSMA originally wanted to discuss if it's going ahead with the event on Friday. Following the dropout of many high-profile companies (listed below), the body pulled forward the meeting to Wednesday, and it looks like the body has decided to cancel the event.
Previously, the GSMA reassured it's "moving ahead as planned and will host MWC Barcelona 24-27 February 2020." The organization pointed to statements from Catalonia's Secretary of Public Health, Joan Guix, who said that the region is not a risk zone: "The Catalan health system is prepared to detect and treat coronavirus, to give the most appropriate response, and this must be clear to those attending MWC Barcelona." This might be a roadblock in the GSMA's quest for the declaration of a health emergency.
According to local newspaper NIUS, the GSMA has decided not to cancel the fair after all, despite the dropout of many exhibitors. The body has communicated this decision after an emergency meeting on Wednesday. The meeting was initially scheduled for Friday, but the GSMA decided to pull it forward to decide the fate of the conference earlier.
Unaffected from the decision, companies continue to withdraw from MWC left and right.
MWC officially canceled
After some back and forth, the GSMA has decided to officially cancel MWC. Read more about it here.