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Ericsson latest firm to withdraw from MWC technology show over coronavirus fears

The telecoms company said it ‘cannot guarantee the health and safety’ of attendees at the annual event.

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Ericsson says it is pulling out of MWC as it cannot guarentee the safety of attendees amid the coronavirus outbreak (Ericsson/PA)

Ericsson says it is pulling out of MWC as it cannot guarentee the safety of attendees amid the coronavirus outbreak (Ericsson/PA)

Ericsson says it is pulling out of MWC as it cannot guarentee the safety of attendees amid the coronavirus outbreak (Ericsson/PA)

Ericsson has become the latest tech firm to pull out of the forthcoming Mobile World Congress (MWC) show over concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.

The telecommunications giant said it had made the decision not to appear at the annual event as the “health and safety of employees and customers cannot be ensured”.

MWC is due to take place in Barcelona at the end of this month and is one of the largest events in the industry calendar.

It is very unfortunate, but we strongly believe the most responsible business decision is to withdraw our participation from this year’s eventBorje Ekholm, Ericsson

Earlier this week, Korean firm LG revealed it too will not be present at the technology convention.

Ericsson said it appreciated efforts to control the risk by event organiser GSMA, but the large size of its own exhibition space means it “cannot guarantee the health and safety” of attendees.

“The health and safety of our employees, customers and other stakeholders are our highest priority,” said Borje Ekholm, president and chief executive of Ericsson.

“This is not a decision we have taken lightly. We were looking forward to showcasing our latest innovations at MWC in Barcelona.

“It is very unfortunate, but we strongly believe the most responsible business decision is to withdraw our participation from this year’s event.”

The Swedish firm said it would instead showcase the demos and content planned for MWC in a series of local events.

The 2019 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona
MWC, one of the biggest technology shows of the year, takes place in Barcelona (Martyn Landi/PA)

A number of other technology heavyweights, including Sony, Samsung, Huawei and Microsoft, are due to appear at MWC.

Last week, the GSMA told the PA news agency that it was monitoring the outbreak and would put additional medical precautions in place around its venues.

In a new statement on Friday, organisers said: “The GSMA regret to see Ericsson’s decision not to attend MWC Barcelona this year as they are an important player in our ecosystem.

“We respect their decision and are reassured by their commitment that they will be at MWC Barcelona 2021 in full force and our rebook trends for next year’s event remain high.

“Ericsson’s cancellation will have some impact on our presence at this time and will potentially have further impact.”

PA