Amazon pulls out of major Barcelona telecoms conference over coronavirus

It is the fourth company this week alone to cancel plans for attending the annual gathering

Amazon  is the latest company to cancel its plans for the Mobile World Congress, which will take place later this month in Barcelona, over coronavirus-related concerns.

In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson said “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.”

The online retailer is the fourth company to pull out of the annual gathering this week alone. Other companies that have cancelled or scaled back their plans for MWC due to the outbreak include Sony, LG, NVIDIA and Ericsson. The event, however, will go ahead as planned, the GSMA telecoms industry association, which runs the Congress, confirmed in a statement on Sunday before Amazon said it was pulling out, adding that they would tighten health precautions to guard against the coronavirus outbreak.

Among the precautions, issued by the association is a ban on Chinese visitor from China's Hubei province (where the coronavirus outbreak started) to attend. Other visitors from China must prove they have been outside the country for two weeks prior to the event, GSMA said. 

With MWC set to start in two weeks today, that is likely to complicate the plans of several Chinese companies that were planning to attend. This is also a direct punch in the face for some of the 5,000-6,000 visitors that typically come from China to the world's premier telecoms industry gathering, where companies spend millions on stands and hospitality to fill their order books for the year ahead.

The vast majority of people affected by coronavirus are in China, where there have been 908 deaths and 40,171 confirmed infections, as of the time this article was posted. The outbreak has also led to a wave of anti-Asian racism and xenophobia across the world.

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