LG Electronics has become the first major technology company to pull out of the 2020 Mobile World Congress (MWC) over concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.
The technology convention is due to take place in Barcelona at the end of this month and is one of the largest events in the industry calendar.
LG said it would instead hold separate events in the near future to announce its latest gadgets.
“LG Electronics is closely monitoring the situation related to the novel coronavirus outbreak, which was recently declared a global emergency by the World Health Organisation, as the virus continues to spread outside China,” the company said in a statement.
“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.
“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.
“In lieu of its participation in MWC, LG will be holding separate events in the near future to announce its 2020 mobile products. LG Electronics thanks its supporters and the public for their understanding during these difficult and challenging times.”
A number of other technology heavyweights, including Sony, Samsung, Huawei and Microsoft are due to appear at MWC.
Industry analyst Ben Wood, from CCS Insight, said LG’s decision was a “big development” for the show, adding that he hoped it would not cause a “domino effect with other companies”.
Last week, MWC organiser the GSMA said it was monitoring the outbreak and would put additional medical precautions in place around its venues. The annual convention is expected to attract more than 100 000 visitors from over 100 countries.
In an updated statement, the 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, as well as the Mobile 360 Series of regional conferences”.
“The GSMA confirms that there is minimal impact on the event thus far. MWC Barcelona 24-27 February 2020 will proceed as planned, across all venues at Fira Gran Via, Fira Montjuic and La Farga L’Hospitalet, including YoMo and Four Years From Now (4YFN).”
The organisers said they have introduced a number of measures to help mitigate the spread of the virus, including increased cleaning and disinfection of conference and other areas, and would add extra signage around its venues to remind visitors of preventative measures.
They added that they are also advising attendees to adopt a “no handshake policy” during the event.
The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak continues to rise, with Chinese authorities reporting 490 victims and an increase in the number of cases to 24 324.