Companies that shelled out money for the canceled Mobile World Congress shouldn’t expect to get it back any time soon, the conference’s organizers said Thursday.
The GSMA, the industry body that puts on the world’s largest smartphone trade show, canceled this year’s event Wednesday after several major companies pulled out over fears about the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
Firms likely won’t be compensated because the insurance coverage GSMA takes out on behalf of the show’s exhibitors doesn’t cover problems caused by a communicable disease such as the coronavirus. The body’s director general, Mats Granryd, called it a “force majeure situation,” a term for uncontrollable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract.
“We don’t comment on insurance policies but clearly there is no way you can insure yourself out of a force majeure situation,” Granryd said at a news conference in Barcelona, which was slated to host the conference from Feb. 24-27.
A document posted on the Mobile World Congress’s website shows the insurance policy for the conference has several exclusions for unpredictable events, including war, national mourning, “sonic boom,” or an outbreak of SARS, the respiratory disease that originated in China and killed more than 700 people in 2002 and 2003.
Major companies — including Amazon, Nokia, Sony, Cisco and Facebook — had pulled out of the Mobile World Congress because of concerns about the coronavirus, which has killed more than 1,300 people and sickened more than 59,000 in mainland China. The conference was expected to give Barcelona’s economy a boost of more than $530 million, according to the GSMA.
The coronavirus outbreak has led several other trade shows and conferences to be canceled or postponed, including Art Basel Hong Kong and the China Development Forum.
With Post wires