A crowd outside an MWC building in 2019.

Lenovo has backed out of in-person attendance at this year’s MWC in Barcelona, citing concerns tied to COVID-19.

Érika García / CNET

Lenovo has decided to pull out of in-person attendance at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, though the conference will go on as scheduled. Citing “ongoing trends surrounding COVID,” the company said Tuesday via its @LenovoNews Twitter account that its attendance this year will be fully virtual. 

The annual mobile trade show, organized by the GSMA, will take place at Fira Gran Via in Barcelona from Feb. 28 through Mar. 3 as originally scheduled, despite ongoing concerns about the spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19.

“The GSMA is disappointed, but respects that in an environment with varied opinions and predictions, plans may be modified. We wish them all the best and look forward to welcoming them back next year,” a GSMA spokesperson said in an emailed statement regarding Lenovo’s decision to back out of in-person attendance. “We have proven our ability to deliver a safe environment with an industry-leading health and safety plan, Committed Community and, three successful events in 2021.”

Lenovo’s decision follows a similar move by Sony earlier this month opting not to have a physical presence at this year’s MWC.

MWC is Europe’s premier annual mobile trade show, with a focus on the latest smartphones and mobile technology. The massive tech expo is known to draw upward of 100,000 attendees and typically features many of the world’s leading mobile device manufacturers, telecom equipment manufacturers and wireless carriers. 

Major mobile device manufacturers still expected to attend in-person include Samsung, Nokia, Huawei, Xiaomi and Oppo. That can all change at any moment, however, as concerns tied to COVID-19 — and the omicron variant in particular — have already led to Lenovo backing out of physical attendance at the event. 

Lenovo didn’t immediately respond to request for additional comment.     

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