Industry association the GSMA cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020, stating fears about the spread of the Coronavirus (known as Covid-19) and other circumstances made it impossible to hold the event as planned.

The move comes after a number of exhibitors withdrew, citing concerns about employee safety. MWC Barcelona 2020 was scheduled to run from 24 February to 27 February, and was expected to draw a crowd of more than 100,000 attendees.

In a statement, GSMA Ltd CEO John Hoffman said protecting the host city was a key part in its decision to call off the event, noting “the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event”.

Barcelona city officials “respect and understand this decision” he added, but emphasised work was already underway with authorities to plan MWC Barcelona 2021 “and future editions”.

The GSMA earlier sought to press ahead with the conference, implementing stringent hygiene measures and restricting access for travellers coming from areas of China hardest hit by the virus.