The impact of the novel Coronavirus outbreak in China is falling increasingly on the world of technology, with Mobile World Congress, Barcelona seeing multiple regular companies withdraw as preventive or precautionary measures. The latest among the companies to withdraw from the world's biggest conference on smartphones and related technologies are LG and ZTE. Both the companies are significant players in the smartphone space — while LG is among the world's top 10 smartphone vendors and also manufactures components such as displays, ZTE is a significant player in the telecommunications equipment and deployment space.
In a media statement issued from LG's headquarters in Seoul, a company spokesperson states, "LG Electronics is closely monitoring the situation related to the novel coronavirus outbreak, which was recently declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization as the virus continues to spread outside China. With the safety of its employees and general public foremost in mind, LG has decided to withdraw from exhibiting and participating in MWC 2020 later this month in Barcelona, Spain. This decision will prevent needlessly exposing hundreds of LG employees to international travel, which most health experts have advised." With regard to the announcements that the company was supposed to make, LG has stated that it "will be holding separate events in the near future".
ZTE appears to have taken a similar approach as well. The Shenzhen-based company spoke to The Verge, stating that the company is backing out of MWC 2020 because it does not "want to make people uncomfortable". The move underlines growing issues of marginalisation, racism and casual xenophobia that has also been circling the rise and spread of Coronavirus, and is something many have been speaking out against. ZTE also cited delays in travel arrangement and visa issuance, possibly linked to the Coronavirus outbreak as well, as to why it cancelled its MWC 2020 presentation.
Going forward, it will be interesting to see if even more major companies back out of MWC 2020. So far, GSMA, the organisers of the conference, has maintained that the Coronavirus outbreak has had "minimal impact" on MWC, and has stated that all precautionary actions are being taken to protect the attendees. Like LG, the GSMA has also released a public statement on the matter, detailing all the safety steps that it is taking for attendees.