Hoffman defends the celebration of a semi-presential Mobile World Congress in June
The GSMA CEO acknowledges that it will be a "different" event with fewer visitors
As far as the GSMA is concerned, the 2021 Mobile World Congress will be held in June. It will be, as said in a statement by its CEO, a "safe and vibrant" event, which will combine the virtual proposal with physical participation and with fewer participants. "We are not naive, things will not be like before," John Hoffman acknowledges in the text. "There are some things that are beyond our control, such as continued travel restrictions, which will mean far fewer visitors than in the past," he explained.
Be that as it may, the executive assures that thanks to a year of accumulated knowledge and additional planning time, they can mitigate many of the risks to maintain a "safe and controlled" environment in space. And they have, he added, the support of the Fira de Barcelona, the Barcelona City Council, the Generalitat de Catalunya, the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism and Turisme de Barcelona. "We have made significant progress to get to this point and we are now 100% focused on bringing the event back, in person, from 28 June to 1 July this year," he said.
In person, he adds, because having developed a virtual platform that has been used to hold several of the events the GSMA organises, they have found that at least one thing was missing: the face-to-face human connection. "It is this in-person connection that has made MWC Barcelona so successful," he says .
He explains all this in a text that takes the opportunity to take stock of everything that has happened this year since Mobile 2020 was cancelled due to companies' fear of the expansion of covid-19. Thus, Hoffman begins by explaining that the decision was taken without being aware of the impact that the pandemic would still have a year later, but not lightly. "If we were wrong, we would cause profound disruption and consequences for more than 2,300 exhibitors and more than 100,000 attendees, not to mention the impact on businesses, workers and the local community," the executive recalls.
Knowing what they know today, he continues, they can confirm that the decision was the right one, despite some of the criticism he also acknowledges having received at the time: "The cancellation helped stop the spread of the virus in Barcelona and beyond, and saved lives as a result".