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[Updated] LG withdraws from MWC due to coronavirus-related concerns

Catherine Shu
L´HOSPITALET, CATALONIA, SPAIN - 2019/02/27: Aerial view of the Fira Gran Via Barcelona enclosure in the city of L'Hospitalet. (Photo by Ramon Costa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

This story has been edited to reflect a new statement by ZTE that it will attend MWC as planned.

LG Electronics has cancelled its plan to participate in MWC later this month in Barcelona, Spain, because of coronavirus-related concerns, while Xiaomi has cancelled its trip for Chinese media but will still attend the event.

In a statement on its site, LG said it will skip MWC, the world’s largest mobile trade show, and launch this year’s releases at separate events "in the near future" instead.

"With the safety of its employees, partners and customers foremost in mind, LG has decided to withdraw from exhibiting and participating in MWC 2020 later this month in Barcelona, Spain," the statement from LG, headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, read. "This decision removes the risk of exposing hundreds of LG employees to international travel which has already become more restrictive as the virus continues to spread across borders."

A Xiaomi spokesperson told TechCrunch the company is "paying close attention to the situation. Xiaomi is still attending this year’s event and will make necessary adjustment accordingly."

Earlier The Verge reported that ZTE had cancelled its press conference because of travel and visa delays, according to a company spokesperson, but also because "[we] tend to be an overly courteous company, and simply don’t want to make people uncomfortable." But the company later tweeted that it plans to attend MWC as planned.

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The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted travel and supply chains around the world. While the vast majority of cases reported have been inside China, the outbreak has also led to a wave of open racism and xenophobia targeted at people of Asian descent around the world.

In a statement posted on its site today, MWC organizers GSMA said it "continues to monitor and assess the potential impact of the coronavirus on its MWC20 events held annually in Barcelona, Shanghai and Los Angeles and as well as the Mobile 360 Series of regional conferences. The GSMA confirms that there is minimal impact on the event thus far."

All Barcelona events taking place February 24 to 27 will go on as scheduled. GSMA previously announced the measures it is taking to prevent the spread of the virus, including increased cleaning and disinfection of high-traffic areas, including catering areas, handrails, bathrooms, entrances and exits and touchscreens and more onsite medical support. It also said it will have a "mic change protocol" for speakers, and advise all attendees to "adopt a ‘no-handshake' policy."