Last year Mobile World Congress was the first large-scale international tech event to get cancelled as a result of COVID-19, with most events following suite. Now MWC 21 could suffer the same fate, as some high profile companies have confirmed they will not be attending the planned in-person event currently scheduled for 28th June to 1st July.
This as Ericsson announced that it would not be attending the event over continued fears regarding COVID-19, earlier this week. The Swedish telecoms specialist and long running MWC exhibitor has since been joined by Sony, Nokia and Oracle in confirming that they too will not be attending MWC 21.
This is a major blow for organisers, especially as they have taken new measures to ensure that the event could take place in 2021, including shifting the date to later in the year, halving the number of attendees and installing new COVID-19-related safety measures.
The company also held an in-person trial of sorts via MWC Shanghai, but these efforts have not been enough for the aforementioned tech firms.
That said, fears regarding COVID-19 are real and warranted, particularly as travel bans for a number of countries outside of the EU still exist.
While the high-profile exits are notable, at the time of writing, it looks like MWC 21 is a go and organisers are still hopeful it can be a success.
“We appreciate that it will not be possible for everyone to attend MWC Barcelona 2021,” organisers, the GSMA said in a statement this week.
“This is why we have developed an industry-leading virtual event platform that will ensure everyone can enjoy the unique MWC experience. The in-person and virtual options are provided so that all friends of MWC Barcelona can attend and participate in a way that works for them,” it added.
While the fate of MWC 21 is still up in the air at this stage, should more companies do the same as Ericsson and others have done, it is only a matter of time before the annual Barcelona-based event suffers back to back cancellations.