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Corona Scare: Major Tech Companies Pull Out of Mobile Event

The Mobile World Congress (MWC) is expected to take place in Barcelona later this month. Usually, the event sees the participation of major tech companies from around the world. But this time, the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak seems to have spooked many corporations. Companies like Amazon, Sony, Intel, etc., have announced that they will not be attending the event this year.

Canceling participation

“Due to the outbreak and continued concerns about novel coronavirus, Amazon will withdraw from exhibiting and participating in Mobile World Congress 2020, scheduled for Feb. 24-27 in Barcelona, Spain,” an Amazon spokesperson said to Tech Crunch. Intel announced that they were prioritizing the safety and security of their employees and partners by staying out of the event. The same concern was raised by Vivo. TCL has canceled its press event at the function, but will go ahead with showcasing its latest mobile devices.

The GSM Association, which is organizing the MWC, has increased security measures to ensure that the event goes as planned and participating companies are not scared away. All attendees of the event will have to self-certify that they have not contacted anyone known to be infected with the coronavirus. Visitors from China’s Hubei Province are banned from attending. People who have visited China will have to prove that they have been outside the Asian country for at least 14 days prior to the event. All participants will also undergo temperature screening.

(Image: Daniel Arauz via flickr CC BY 2.0 )
People who have visited China will have to prove that they have been outside the Asian country for at least 14 days prior to the event. (Image: Daniel Arauz via flickr CC BY 2.0 )

The organizers will ensure “increased cleaning and disinfection programme across all high-volume touchpoints, e.g. catering areas, surfaces, handrails, WCs, entrances/exits, public touch-screens, etc. along with the use of correct cleaning/sanitising materials and products… Increased onsite medical support — doubled over last year… Availability of sanitising and disinfection materials for public use,” according to MWC’s official website.

Alba Verges, the health minister of Catalonia where the event is taking place, explained that the region is not a public health risk zone and that people do not have to worry about attending the MWC. She said that the Catalan health system is fully equipped to detect coronavirus and give the most appropriate response. The Spanish Ministry of Health is reportedly in touch with relevant bodies to ensure that the event is a success.

Sports event cancellations

Just like the MWC, hundreds of events across the world have been canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus scare. Sporting events have borne a major brunt of such cancellations. In soccer, Asian Champions League matches that involve a few Chinese teams have been postponed. A women’s Olympic qualifying tournament that was supposed to take place in Wuhan has been shifted to Australia.

(Image: Screenshot / YouTube)
The AFC Champions League, commonly known as the Asian Champions League, postponed soccer matches involving a few Chinese teams. (Image: Screenshot / YouTube)

“The World Athletics Indoor Championships, which had been scheduled for Nanjing from March 13-15, were postponed until next year. World Athletics is working with organizers to settle on a date to host the biennial event in 2021… The Asian Athletics Association canceled its Feb. 12-13 indoor championships in Hangzhou,” according to Reuters.

An LPGA golf tour scheduled at Hainan for March 5-8 has been canceled. A PGA tour series was moved from Haikou to the Indonesian city of Lagoi. A Hockey Pro League match between China and Australia to be held in Changzhou in March was canceled. Since such sporting events see the participation of people from various nations, the risk of the infection spreading from one event to the rest of the world is pretty high. So as long as the COVID-19 coronavirus keeps spreading, more sports events are likely to be canceled, whether they are scheduled in China or elsewhere.

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