Cisco And Others Drop Out Of MWC 2020 Amid Coronavirus Concerns

Cisco joins many other companies dropping out of MWC 2020, including Amazon Web Services, Facebook, and Sprint, citing health concerns for its employees and partners.


Several of the world's largest tech companies are backing out or scaling back their attendance at Mobile World Congress 2020 in Barcelona because of fears around coronavirus, including Cisco Systems.

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco changed its RSVP to MWC 2020 on Tuesday, calling the decision "difficult" in a statement. Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins was expected to deliver a keynote.

"While we are extremely disappointed that we cannot continue with this event as planned, we believe this is the right decision given the current circumstances. Cisco sincerely appreciates everything that [MWC] has done to protect the safety of its attendees, and we look forward to participating in future events. We continue to keep those directly impacted by this situation in our thoughts and prayers," Cisco said.

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The GSM Association, the organization that runs MWC Barcelona, said it will be implementing strict screening measures, including taking temperatures of attendees, to ensure that any coronavirus risks are mitigated. Attendees at this year's event are expected to self-certify they have not come into contact with anyone potentially infected by the virus. MWC is also suggesting a “no handshake” policy to help further reduce risks.

La Vanguardia, a Spanish newspaper, posted a report on Tuesday that said that the GSM Association is considering cancelling the event this year as high-profile tech companies pull out of MWC 2020. The GSM Association could not be reached for comment on the report before publication.

Europe as of this writing has nearly 40 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Spain has two known cases, neither of which were identified in Barcelona.

Cisco is not alone. Ericsson, Facebook, F5 Networks, Intel, LG, and Sprint, to name a few, have also bailed on MWC 2020. Amazon Web Services on Monday cancelled its plans to both exhibit or participate in MWC 2020 to protect "the wellbeing and safety" of its employees, customers, partners, and press and analyst community, the Seattle-based cloud giant said.

Amazon at the end of January restricted business travel to and from China in the wake of the outbreak.

Other companies still attending have chosen to scale back their presence this year, including Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE Technologies. Still other companies, including AT&T, Microsoft, and Verizon, have not updated their attendance plans as of Tuesday afternoon.

MWC 2020 was expected to host 109,000 people.