Virus delays top mobile fair until June 2021

Organisers of world's leading annual mobile trade fair said Wednesday they would postpone the 2021 edition of the annual event from March to late June due to the pandemic.

This year's Mobile World Congress (MWC), which is held annually in Barcelona, was originally set for February but cancelled at the last minute after the COVID-19 outbreak sparked an exodus of participants, making it the first major fair to be called off over the crisis.

The event, which draws more than 100,000 global participants to check out the latest wireless innovations and strike deals, brings in nearly 500 million euros ($586 million) to Spain's second-largest city.

MWC 2021 will now run from June 28 to July 1, said John Hoffman, chief executive of the GSMA, the mobile trade association that organises the show.

A smaller congress which focuses on the Asian market, MWC Shanghai, which usually takes place in the Chinese city in June, will instead be held next February 23-25 which will "allow us to test security procedures", he added.

"We have been designing new ways of bringing people together, safely and securely, we are working together with local and national health officials."

While China has largely controlled the spread of the virus, which first emerged in the central of Wuhan late last year, Spain is seeing a rapid rise in COVID-19 infections, with an average of over 10,000 cases diagnosed every day in recent weeks.

Hoffman reported "very, very strong" interest in attending Barcelona's MWC in person, with 78 percent of the top 100 exhibitors already signed up, including Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia.

© 2020 AFP

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