FILE PHOTO: Employees pass by Fira de Barcelona after the Mobile World Congress (MWC) was cancelled in Barcelona, Spain February 13, 2020. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
September 23, 2020
BARCELONA/BERLIN (Reuters) – The organisers of the Mobile World Congress, the telecoms industry’s biggest annual gathering, said on Wednesday they were postponing next year’s event to late June to make it possible to convene safely despite the coronavirus pandemic.
MWC 2021, originally scheduled for early March, will now be held in Barcelona, Spain, from June 28-July 1. This year’s congress was cancelled at the last minute as the virus spread around the world.
The event, which combines a glitzy trade show with a frenzy of executive networking, will be face to face but numbers attending will be down from the 110,000 delegates who usually converge in the Catalan capital.
“It’s going to be physical. It’s going to be face to face. But it’s going to have a bigger virtual component,” said Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA, the telecoms industry association that hosts the congress.
“Having 110,000-plus events is less interesting – getting the right people is more interesting,” he added.
The delay seeks to buy time to strengthen hygiene precautions. Granryd expressed hope that, by next summer, it will be possible to take quick COVID-19 tests while vaccines now under development may also be available.
The GSMA will also bring forward the Chinese edition of the Mobile World Congress, held in Shanghai, to late February in what amounts to a calendar swap with the main Barcelona event.
(Reporting by Joan Faus, Inti Landauro and Douglas Busvine; editing by Jason Neely, Kirsten Donovan)