Coronavirus just canceled the world's biggest phone show

(Image credit: Marc González/Europa Press via Getty Images)

MWC 2020 is dead. The world's largest mobile tech conference has been canceled, reports Bloomberg, two weeks before it was scheduled to kick off on Feb. 24 in Barcelona, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

This marks the end to a saga that began eight days ago, when LG and ZTE first announced they'd be skipping the festivities. A slew of other firms followed, from Amazon to Sony to Ericsson and Nokia, in the week that followed.

All the while, the GSMA, MWC's organizing body, continued to reassert that the show would continue, albeit with a list of measures implemented to minimize the risk to attendants, from an increased number of hand sanitizing stations to a no-handshake policy. The GSMA also barred attendees from China's Hubai region, where the coronavirus is believed to have originated.

But the rising absentee toll forced the GSMA's hand. Earlier today (Feb. 12), a Wired story reported that the organization was lobbying the Spanish government to declare the virus a public health emergency so that it'd be able to claim insurance to mitigate losses it would've incurred if it chose to cancel the event.

Hours later, it was made official. John Hoffman, the CEO of the GSMA, told Bloomberg over email that "the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible" to hold the event, and that it will not be postponed to a later date this year.

"With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020," the GSMA's official statement reads. "The GSMA and the Host City Parties will continue to be working in unison and supporting each other for MWC Barcelona 2021 and future editions."

MWC is typically where many companies unveil the phones and wearables they plan to release throughout the remainder of the year. It's an important event for the industry, and now that it's off the calendar, many phone makers will likely roll out their products on their own timetable.

Adam Ismail is a staff writer at Jalopnik and previously worked on Tom's Guide covering smartphones, car tech and gaming. His love for all things mobile began with the original Motorola Droid; since then he’s owned a variety of Android and iOS-powered handsets, refusing to stay loyal to one platform. His work has also appeared on Digital Trends and GTPlanet. When he’s not fiddling with the latest devices, he’s at an indie pop show, recording a podcast or playing Sega Dreamcast.