Sony follows Ericsson's lead with early MWC exit

The company has confirmed to IT Pro that it will not be participating in this year's Barcelona tech conference

The Fira Grand Via in Barcelona, Spain

Sony has confirmed that it won't be attending this year's Mobile World Congress (MWC), just hours after Ericsson officially pulled out of the Barcelona tech conference.

In a statement given to IT Pro, a spokesperson for Sony Mobile confirmed that due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis it won't be participating in the show, despite GSMA's plans for MWC to go ahead as an in-person event. 

"Sony Mobile has taken the decision that it will not be participating in MWC 2021," the spokesperson said. "As the world increasingly shifts towards digital and online opportunities to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Sony Mobile will communicate in ways that can deliver our exciting product news to a wider audience."

Sony's confirmation is yet another blow for MWC, as it comes just a day after Ericsson said it wouldn't be attending the show due to safety concerns. 

"In view of the continuing impacts from COVID-19 and our primary consideration towards our people, their health and well-being, we have decided not to participate in MWC 2021," an Ericsson spokesperson told IT Pro

"The decision, whilst regrettable, reflects our precautionary approach to managing the pandemic from a people and travel perspective whilst vaccination programs are rolled out globally. We look forward to the opportunity to rejoin future events and continue to work closely with the GSMA and industry partners."

GSMA is planning to host the event in June with 50,000 attendees in person - potentially the first major tech event in Europe since March 2020. GSMA has said that everyone who visits the Fira Gran Via in Barcelona will have to show a negative test result and also repeat the test every 72 hours, but not everyone is reassured by that commitment. 

Ericsson was also one of the first to pull out of MWC in 2020. That seemed to open the floodgates with many vendors following suit before the event was completely called off. 

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IT Pro has approached a number of companies thought to be attending the event. While Sony was quick to confirm it wouldn't be participating in the event, Huawei has said it is still attending "as it stands", though that may change in the coming months. 

GSMA seems to be confident that MWC will go ahead due to the number of vaccines being rolled out across Europe and the fact it was able to successfully hold the Shanghai version of the event at the end of February. The organisers confirmed that around 25,000 people from 114 countries were in attendance along with 220 exhibitors, including Huawei.

However, Spain and most of Europe are still recording high numbers of daily cases and a number of countries have travel bans in place. 

In the UK, 8 March was the first step to easing lockdown restrictions with children back to schools. The government hopes it can fully open in June, but that might still be too soon for an international event.  

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