By Joan Faus and Supantha Mukherjee
BARCELONA/STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – There will be no Russian pavilion at the telecoms industry’s biggest annual gathering and a “handful” of Russian companies will be excluded due to sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, said the event organizer on Friday.
Mobile World Congress organizers have condemned Moscow’s actions but have no plans to cancel or postpone the rally scheduled between February 28 and March 3 in Barcelona, chief executive John Hoffman told Reuters. from the event organizer GSMA.
“As we see the situation today, we see no need or requirement to do so. Of course, this is an evolving situation and we will continue to monitor it,” Hoffman said.
He said “a handful, a few” Russian companies and their executives would be banned but did not name them, saying sanctions lists were evolving.
“We are guided by international sanctions and certain companies are identified on the sanctions list and these will be banned from participation,” he said, adding that the GSMA would strictly follow US sanctions as well as others.
Conference organizers are expecting between 40,000 and 60,000 people at the show, making it one of the largest in-person events since the pandemic began, although it is still down from 2019 numbers.
Hoffman said the figure would likely be closer to 60,000 and turnout would be very high among senior executives.
Constanti Serrallonga, general manager of Fira de Barcelona, the venue of the event, spoke of good preparation for the gathering.
“We expect to see an edition that will almost look like a pre-pandemic event.”
The invasion of Ukraine did not result in significant hotel cancellations in Barcelona related to the event, except for some Eastern European representatives, tourist website Hosteltur reported.
For Barcelona’s Nobu Hotel, the return of a large-format conference meant it could reopen after being closed for two years due to the pandemic.
“We expect Mobile World Congress to live up to our expectations…we are setting the tone that Barcelona are back,” said director Laurence Dubey.
(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm and Joan Faus and Horaci Garcia in Barcelona; additional reporting by Christina Thykjaer; editing by Hugh Lawson and Jason Neely)