MWC 2020 is cancelled, and exhibitors won't get refunds

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MWC organising body the GSMA has confirmed it will not provide refunds to exhibitors following the cancellation of this year's show.

The annual industry showpiece was due to be held this week in Barcelona, but organisers pulled the plug earlier this month due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.

Several companies, including Amazon, Ericsson, Facebook, Intel, LG, Nokia Nvidia and Sony had already announced they would be withdrawing from the event. Nonetheless, the GSMA was adamant that the show would go ahead right up until the formal cancellation on February 13.

MWC 2020 cancelled

A statement from the GSMA said the organisers came to the conclusion that the show was "impossible" to hold after recent events.

GSMA CEO, John Hoffman, said, “With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event.”

However exhibitors will not be liable for any compensation. The GSMA has said that the “unprecedented and uninsurable” situation means there will be no refunds.

“As a not for profit organisation and the convener of an entire industry and related ecosystem, the financial implications of these circumstances are hugely significant for the GSMA and we are grateful for your understanding and patience,” read an email sent to one exhibitor and seen by Mobile Marketing. The same exhibitor was also told it would have to foot the catering bill for its planned presence at the event.

“Given this is a force majeure situation, no refunds will be provided under clause 21.10 of our Standard Terms and Conditions for Exhibition, Advertising and Sponsorship.”

The situation could be significant for smaller organisations that allocate a major portion of their marketing budget to MWC and rely on the vent to showcase their wares and hold meetings with other members of the mobile ecosystem.

Some companies will also have paid for transport, accommodation, and exhibition stands, while resources would have been spent on creating demos and prototypes.

The GSMA told TechRadar Pro that it was asking exhibitors for patience as it came up with proposals that might mitigate the potential fallout from the cancellation and allow for the continuation of mutually beneficial relationships. It plans to communicate further details at the end of March.

Via Mobile Marketing

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.