Google ditches Mobile World Congress 2021, the world’s biggest phone show

Last year, the world’s largest phone show, Mobile World Congress, hung on to the idea of hosting an in-person event during the COVID-19 pandemic as long as it could, even as major exhibitors kept pulling out — and the dominoes may be falling on this year’s show as well.

Google just announced that it will not exhibit at MWC this year. It’s the biggest name so far, following major telecom infrastructure providers Nokia and Ericsson as well as Sony and Oracle.

Here’s Google’s full statement:

Following our current COVID-19 travel restrictions and protocols, Google has made the decision to not exhibit at Mobile World Congress this year. We will continue to collaborate closely with GSMA and support our partners through virtual opportunities. We look forward to this year’s activities and seeing you in Barcelona in 2022.

In February, the GSMA (which runs Mobile World Congress) insisted that it would go ahead with the potential superspreader event this June, requiring only an array of standard precautions, mask-wearing, and a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival, none of which are considered sufficient to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The org was not planning to require vaccinations at that time. Now that the vaccine situation is improving and another big name has bailed, I’m curious if organizers will change their minds.

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