The outbreak of the deadly coronavirus since late last year has sent the business community into a state of panic with major business events gatherings canceled over health and safety concerns for participants and more importantly host countries.
At the last count, there are 88 countries or territories that have reported cases of the novel coronavirus which have claimed lives of more than 3,200 people – majority of whom have come from mainland China where the disease originated.
Due to its relatively easy mode of spreading, a number of countries have had to take precautionary measures by ensuring strict checks at various ports of entries as a first measure to keep sick travelers at bay.
Event organizers are taking no chances as some of the major events that draw thousands of people globally have had to cancel the events altogether as a precautionary measure.
1. Mobile World Congress, Barcelona
The world’s biggest phone show, Mobile World Congress, was among the first of mega-events that was canceled. The annual trade show organized by GSMA, dedicated primarily to the mobile communications industry is held in Barcelona.
Last year, more than 100,000 patrons from all over the world trooped to Barcelona for the event. With several tech innovations line up, there was high expectation for the 2020 edition. But after several vendors pulled out over health and safety concerns, the organizers had to pull the plug on the event which was to have taken place between February 24-27.
2. IMF/World Bank Group Spring Meetings
The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, citing growing concerns about the fast-spreading coronavirus, on Tuesday, said they will adopt a “virtual format” for their Spring Meetings instead of convening in person in Washington DC,
The institutions’ Spring Meetings, scheduled this year for April 13-19, usually brings some 10,000 government officials, business people, civil society representatives and journalists from across the globe to a tightly packed, two-block area of downtown Washington that houses their headquarters.
3. Google I/O conference
Google on March 3, announced that it is canceling its I/O developer event this year, amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Google I/O conference was due to take place between May 12th to 14th this year.
Due to concerns around the coronavirus (COVID-19), and in accordance with health guidance from the CDC, WHO, and other health authorities, we have decided to cancel the physical Google I/O event at Shoreline Amphitheatre,” a Google spokesperson explained in a statement.
Google usually uses I/O as its biggest news event of the year to introduce new changes to Android, Google-powered hardware, and even updates to services like Google Maps. Google says it’s now exploring “other ways to evolve Google I/O to best connect with and continue to build our developer community.”
4. Facebook F8 developer conference
Facebook on February 27 announced on that it’s canceling its F8 developer conference, the social media giant’s biggest event of the year, over concerns about the novel coronavirus.
Facebook’s mostly annual conference was scheduled to take place at the San Jose, USA on May 5 and 6. It is a widely anticipated Facebook event, and last year attracted more than 5,000 developers, creators and entrepreneurs from around the globe.
5. London Book Fair
This year’s London Book Fair, one of the UK’s largest book events, is another event that has been called off due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. The announcement follows a number of publishers and agencies pulling out of the event.
“It is with reluctance that we have taken the decision not to go ahead with this year’s event,” said organizer Reed Exhibitions in a statement.
The annual fair, scheduled to take place in London from 10 to 12 March, sees more than 25,000 people involved in the publishing industry gather to promote their books, sell rights and negotiate deals.
Earlier this week, a training programme for journalists from selected West African countries being organised by the IMF in Accra was also canceled due to the COVID-19.
According to PredictHQ, a company that aggregates data sets from myriad events and public holidays to help companies forecast demand for their services, the direct economic loss from the cancellation of major tech conferences like Google I/O, Facebook’s F8 event, and Mobile World Congress over coronavirus has already passed $500 million.
Some $480 million — the vast majority of that total loss — comes from the cancellation of Mobile World Congress, which was supposed to host more than 100,000 attendees in Barcelona last month. That’s followed by the cancellation of Google I/O, a 5,000-person developer conference whose direct losses are estimated to reach nearly $20 million.
The estimates by PredictHQ looks at losses from four categories: airfare, lodging, food, and transportation. That means this is a very conservative estimate since it doesn’t include losses incurred from event sponsors, purchases that employees might have made, or ancillary impacts to the local economy.