Google is the latest to pull out of an in-person Mobile World Congress

Mobile World Congress at the Fira Grand Via, Barcelona

Google has become the latest exhibitor to pull out of this year's Mobile World Congress (MWC) due to safety concerns following a decision by the organisers to host it as an in-person event.

The event is still scheduled for 28 June at the Fira Grand Via in Barcelona, but it has already lost the participation of Ericsson, Sony, Nokia, and Oracle.

In February, GSMA, which organises the annual conference, insisted that MWC would go ahead as the first in-person event in Europe since the start of the pandemic. The firm's plans were initially buoyed by the success of MWC Shanghai, which hosted around 20,000 people at the start of March.

For the Barcelona event, GSMA promised a strict regime of safety checks, and reduced its attendee count to 50,000, instead of the 100,000 MWC usually attracts. All visitors would also need to provide a negative COVID test and repeat the result every 72 hours.

However, Google has joined a growing list of large exhibitors that have been unconvinced by the safety measures.

"Following our current COVID travel restrictions and protocols, Google has made the decision to not exhibit at Mobile World Congress this year," a spokesperson for the company said. "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."

Seven territories across Spain are now thought to be at high-risk for coronavirus infections, with cases surpassing 150 per 100,000 inhabitants. Some of those territories are in the Catalonia region, which is home to Barcelona.

IT Pro has contacted GSMA for comment.

Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognize him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.