Top mobile event ‘MWC 2022’ in tight spot amid Russia-Ukraine war

With airspaces being shut over certain parts of Europe, especially eastern, amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, the world’s premier technology event ‘Mobile World Congress 2022’ (MWC 2022) in Barcelona, Spain, next week is in a tight spot and may barely sail through, industry experts said on Friday.

The ‘MWC 2022’ is scheduled to begin — with a mix of in-person and virtual events — in Barcelona on February 28 and will end on March 3.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has said Ukraine’s skies and airspace in Russia and Belarus within 100 nautical miles of borders with Ukraine could pose risks. UK flights to and over Russia have been banned by the country’s civil aviation authority in retaliation for a British ban on Aeroflot in UK airports and airspace.

Experts said the event may go on but a cautious approach is the need of the hour.

“I do not think that the Russia-Ukraine war will have any impact on the MWC 2022, though it will limit the presence of startups from these countries as we know that both Ukraine and Russia have a strong technology startup ecosystem,” Tarun Pathak, Director Counterpoint Research, told IANS.

In 2020, MWC was forced into cancellation after the GSM Association, its organiser, banned travellers from coronavirus outbreak zones in China and many exhibitors pulled out and the tech show took place virtually in 2021.

This year, till now, the largest mobile tech trade conference is scheduled to go on as planned, and the organisers were yet to issue any statement on if there are any changes to the itinerary.

Faisal Kawoosa, founder and chief analyst of Techarc, said that the current scenario can spoil the event as people may reconsider their trip to Barcelona due to war.

“I see this as an event spoiler. With the way things are panning out, many people will opt out from travelling to the event. Several attendees are closely watching the whole situation while reconsidering their trip to Barcelona next week,” Kawoosa told IANS.

“However, the show must go on if things do not go out of hand. We must have MWC this year,” he added.

The show is expected to have over 1,800 attendees and exhibitors from 183 different countries. Many of the industry’s biggest names, like Google, Samsung, OPPO, Nokia, Ericsson and Meta (formerly Facebook), are expected to be present this year.

(Vivek Singh Chauhan can be contacted at vivek.c@ians.in)

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