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Coronavirus concerns continue to blight key tech events

IBM pulles out of RSA, while Intel axes Milan conference

The coronavirus outbreak continues to impact global tech industry events, with IBM announcing its withdrawal from the RSA cyber security conference and Intel cancelling its gatherings in Milan and the US. 

On Friday, IBM confirmed that it will not be participating in the RSA cyber security conference, which is due to take place between 24-28 February in San Francisco. 

In a tweet, the firm said: “The health of IBMers is our primary concern as we continue to monitor upcoming events and travel relative to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).”

Despite losing the participation of one if its Platinum Partners, RSA said the event will go ahead as planned, adding that the number of cancellations amounts to 0.79% of expected attendees. 

Including IBM, a total of eight sponsors or exhibitors have now withdrawn from the summit, the organisation confirmed, with six of those from China and one each from the US and Canada. 

Concerns surrounding the virus are widespread, with Intel also postponing briefing sessions at its San Francisco tech summit (12-13 March), as well as cancelling its partner event in Milan (3-5 March).

In a statement, the tech giant said the Silicon Valley gathering would not be going ahead as planned “due to the coronavirus/COVID-19 impact on the ecosystem” but it will be “revisiting launch plans”. 

Last week, Intel’s VP of Global Scale and Partner Programs Greg Baur told partners the firm was canceling its Milan event as many would not be able to attend, adding that the company will contact businesses once it has arranged “alternative plans”.

"Unfortunately, too many of our partners are unable to travel due to restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, and this wouldn't be the event we envisioned without them,” he wrote in an email seen by CRN. "We will be evaluating options for alternatives and will keep you posted as details emerge. Please cancel your travel plans immediately."

The developments follow hot on the heels of Mobile World Congress’s (MWC) decision to pull its annual industry gathering in Barcelona, after numerous attendees pulled out due to Coronavirus concerns. 

Elsewhere, Facebook has also made the decision to cancel its global marketing gathering, which had been scheduled to take place in San Francisco next month. 

Since its first reported case in Wuhan, China, coronavirus has so far killed 1,770 people, according to the latest figures from China’s National Health Commission, while 70,548 people have been infected in the country.

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