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It started last week when GSMA cancelled Mobile World Congress in Barcelona after a massive exodus of exhibitors. Then, Facebook pulled out of its Global Marketing Summit scheduled for San Francisco early next month. Now, there are daily announcements of companies pulling out of conferences or trade shows being postponed or cancelled.
The cancellations are due to fear of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). There are almost 75,000 people infected with the new coronavirus and it’s killed more than 2,100. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new advisories for travelers going to Hong Kong and Japan and recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China.
No one wants to be around large groups of people with the risk of transmitting the coronavirus a real possibility or, at the very least, a real fear. As a result, trade shows are cancelling as major exhibitors are pulling out. Here’s the latest roundup.
Tech conferences that have cancelled
Black Hat Asia, scheduled for March 31 to April 3 in Singapore, has been cancelled. The website has a notice, “After careful consideration of the health and safety of our attendees and partners, we have made the difficult decision to postpone Black Hat Asia 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak. We understand the inconvenience this may cause and will follow up directly with all of those who are scheduled to attend and exhibit to determine appropriate next steps.”
Cisco Systems cancelled Cisco Live Melbourne, scheduled for March 3-6 in Melbourne, Australia, saying in a statement, “Due to ongoing concerns about the current outbreak of Coronavirus, Cisco has made the difficult decision to cancel Cisco Live Melbourne…Our customers, partners and employees are our top priority and we strongly believe this is the right decision given the current circumstances. Our thoughts are with those directly impacted by this situation.”
Facebook cancelled a Global Marketing Summit slated for San Francisco on March 9-12. In a statement, the company said, “Out of an abundance of caution, we canceled our Global Marketing Summit due to evolving public health risks related to coronavirus.”
GSMA, which produces MWC, announced on February 12 that it was cancelling the event in Barcelona. It was scheduled to take place Feb. 24-27 in Barcelona and normally attracts more than 100,000 visitors and is the largest show in the world focusing on mobile devices.
“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,” said John Hoffman, CEO of GSMA Limited, in a press statement. The show was cancelled after tech giants such as LG, Sony, Nvidia, ZTE, Ericsson, Amazon and Intel pulled out of the show.
Tech conferences with some exhibitors pulling out
RSA, which runs from Feb. 24-28 in San Francisco, is still scheduled to take place. But IBM, ATT and Verizon have withdrawn, citing concerns over the coronavirus. IBM posted on Twitter, “The health of IBMers is our primary concern as we continue to monitor upcoming events and travel relative to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).” ATT Cybersecurity bailed on RSA, spurring RSA to announce in a statement, “the number of individuals, including those from ATT Cybersecurity, who have canceled their registration is approximately 1.2 percent of the total number of expected attendees. We also feel that it is important to communicate an update regarding the nine companies from China signed up to exhibit at RSA Conference 2020. Of those nine companies, six have canceled due to travel restrictions. The remaining three exhibitors from China will be staffing their booth with individuals from the U.S.A. to maintain their presence at RSA Conference. The total number of exhibitors, including ATT, that have canceled their participation as a sponsor or exhibitor is thirteen. As stated above, six of them are from China; six are from the U.S.A.; and one of them is from Canada.”
Verizon is the latest to cancel plans to attend RSA, announcing on February 21 that they will not exhibit at the show.
There are currently 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US and there are zero confirmed cases in San Francisco, according to the RSA statement.
RSA has added several new health and safety measures as a result of the coronavirus risk, such as wiping down shuttle bus arm rests and registration counters.
The Game Developers Conference, scheduled for March 16-20 in San Francisco, will continue as planned, but the approximately 10 exhibitors from China have all cancelled, and so have all China-based attendees. Facebook has also pulled out of the conference. There will be enhanced cleaning measures in place to protect the health of attendees.
Tech conferences that have changed formats
Salesforce World Tour Sydney has gone from an in-person conference to an online-only event on March 4. “Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our stakeholders. Over the last few months, we have been closely monitoring the evolving situation with the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak to ensure we are taking every precaution to look after our customers, partners, and employees,” the company posted on its website. “After careful consideration of our stakeholders and reflection on our values, we’ve decided to change the format of our World Tour in person event on Wednesday 4 March to be an online experience.”
Tech conferences with no changes, yet
SXSW, in Austin, Texas from March 13-22, is still on as scheduled. The conference include various programming tracks including music, art, film and technology. The conference organizers have included links to coronavirus information for attendees with questions.
This list will be updated as new information is available.
This article was updated on February 21, 2020.
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