What you need to know
- MWC will continue on with an in-person event in Barcelona.
- COVID-19 cases growing, Spain saw over 120k average number of cases on Jan. 9.
- CEO of GSMA says the show will be canceled based on Spanish authorities' advice.
MWC Barcelona will continue on with its annual conference in six weeks' time, despite growing concerns surrounding COVID-19 and the spread of the new Omicron variant.
John Hoffman, CEO of the GSM Association (GSMA), said in a post on MWC's website that with previous safeguards and the ongoing efforts from health experts, scientists, and the government, he believes that conference-goers will be able to "convene safely" this year.
"This new year also begins with more news related to the pandemic. Global circumstance continues to evolve and, one thing is becoming apparent, we will be dealing with the effects of Covid-19 for years to come. In times like these, responsible leadership is more critical than ever. This type of leadership inspires innovation and the kind of investment that moves our industry, society, and economy forward while keeping our community safe. Considering this and the fact that present circumstances have made connectivity profoundly critical, the GSMA would only consider a change to our plans under the direction of the Spanish authorities," – John Hoffman, CEO GSMA
The conference is expected to have over 1,500 exhibitors coming in from 150 different countries, the note said. MWC is one of the biggest mobile technology conferences and it's usually a chance to see new smartphones from different manufacturers. In previous years, the conference has drawn in over 100,000 attendees.
According to the New York Times daily tracker for Spain, the daily average of COVID cases on Jan. 9 was 124,309.
MWC will be the second major conference to continue its in-person get-together after CES, which decided to end a day earlier.
In September 2020, the GSMA announced it was postponing its 2021 conference due to COVID-19. MWC was among the first major trade shows in 2021 to have been canceled due to the pandemic. Before the GSMA actually announced that the show was being canceled, several companies had already decided to forgo attending MWC 2021, keeping in mind the health and safety of their employees. The show took place later that year in June.
So far, no company has yet announced if they will be dropping out of going to the conference. Amazon, Google, OnePlus, Lenovo, Microsoft, Nvidia, and Intel were among the companies that dropped out of going to CES this year.