Sony withdraws from MWC 2020 over coronavirus concerns

The Japanese tech giant joins an ever-growing list of companies opting out of the mobile show this year.

Katie Collins Senior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
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Sony became the latest exhibitor to withdraw from Mobile World Congress on Monday, following in the footsteps of LG , Ericsson, Amazon and Nvidia.

The companies have all pulled out of the show, which is due to be held in Barcelona at the end of this month, due to fears over coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement, Sony said its press conference, where it's expected to show off its latest Xperia flagship, will go ahead as scheduled, but would now be live-streamed via the internet.

"As we place the utmost importance on the safety and wellbeing of our customers, partners, media and employees, we have taken the difficult decision to withdraw from exhibiting and participating at MWC 2020 in Barcelona, Spain," the company said.

First disclosed in late December, the virus has infected over 37,000 people and killed over 800 as of Feb. 9. Companies including AppleGoogle and Nintendo have closed offices, limited business travel and faced supply chain disruptions.

The GSMA, the organization that runs MWC, said it will have additional medical personnel on-site. It will also put other measures in place to reduce the risks posed by the disease, including a no-handshake policy.

In spite of assurances from the GSMA, many companies have decided it's not worth risking the health of their employees to attend. Samsung still plans to attend the show, but has said it is paring back the number of executives it sends.

The GSMA did not immediately respond to request for comment.