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Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP via Getty Images

More large companies are skipping Mobile World Congress amid concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. Among the latest to pull out are AT&T, BT, Cisco, Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Intel, Nokia and Vodafone, who join Ericsson, Sony and LG among large companies pulling out of the annual Barcelona trade show.

Why it matters: MWC is the traditional gathering place of mobile companies from all over the world — and that's the concern.

The board of the GSMA, the trade group that puts on Mobile World Congress, plans to meet Friday to discuss the impact of all the departures, according to Bloomberg.

The group has already implemented a number of new safety precautions, including rules on who can attend from China.

What they're saying:

  • AT&T: "We value our participation in important industry groups like GSMA and deeply respect the steps they have already taken to protect attendees. Unfortunately, the most responsible decision is to withdraw our participation from the event to safeguard our employees and customers."
  • Facebook: "Out of an abundance of caution, Facebook employees won’t be attending this year’s Mobile World Congress due to the evolving public health risks related to coronavirus. We will continue to collaborate with the GSMA and our partners and thank them for their efforts."
  • Intel: "The safety and wellbeing of all our employees and partners is our top priority, and we have withdrawn from this year’s Mobile World Congress out of an abundance of caution. We are grateful to the GSMA for their understanding and look forward to attending and supporting future Mobile World Congress events."
  • Cisco: "We have made the difficult decision to withdraw from participating in Mobile World Congress ... due to concerns about the current outbreak of Coronavirus."

Our thought bubble: Once Ericsson — one of the largest exhibitors — announced plans to withdraw, it gave everyone else cover to do so as well.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include BT, Deutsche Telekom, Nokia and Vodafone in the list of companies not attending the event.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - World

Scoop: Iran preparing to enrich weapons-grade uranium, Israel warns U.S.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference. Photo: Presidency of Iran handout via Getty

Israel has shared intelligence over the past two weeks with the U.S. and several European allies suggesting that Iran is taking technical steps to prepare to enrich uranium to 90% purity — the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon, two U.S. sources briefed on the issue tell me.

Why it matters: Enriching to 90% would bring Iran closer than ever to the nuclear threshold. The Israeli warnings come as nuclear talks resume in Vienna, with Iran returning to the negotiating table on Monday after a five-month hiatus.

Biden: Fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Monday said that the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, is "a cause for concern, not a cause for panic."

Driving the news: Biden said later this week the administration will be releasing a strategy on how "we're going to fight COVID this winter. Not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more."

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: WHO says Omicron poses "very high" risk — Fauci says Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S. — U.S. restricts air travel from 8 countries over Omicron concerns.
  2. Politics: Biden says fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns."
  3. States: New York declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron.
  4. World: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating worldWHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries — First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.