The Geneva Motor Show, one of the biggest events in the automotive industry calendar, has been canceled due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus, officially called COVID-19. The government of Switzerland is banning all large events after several cases of the disease were discovered in the country.
“The Federal Council is banning public and private events in Switzerland at which more than 1000 people would gather. This ban on events comes into immediate effect and will apply at least until 15 March,” the Swiss Federal Council said in a press release shared on February 28. “The Federal Council is aware that this measure will have a significant impact on public life in Switzerland. However, the move is expected to provide effective protection to people in Switzerland and to public health. It should prevent or delay the spread of the disease in Switzerland, thus reducing its momentum.”
The Geneva Motor Show had more than 600,000 people attend last year, and this year’s event was expected to attract similar numbers. The show was planned to run for 10 days from March 5 until March 15. However, some auto manufacturers had already changed their plans for the show in response to the coronavirus. Audio company Harman and electric vehicle startup Byton both announced they would not be attending the event. Although other companies had big plans for the event, such as Volkswagen which this week announced its new Golf GTI ahead of the show.
The organizers of the Geneva Motor Show confirmed its cancellation in a news conference today. “We regret to announce the 2020 Geneva motor show will be canceled,” Maurice Turrettini, chairman of the show’s trustees board, said as reported by Automotive News Europe. “This is force majeure.” The organizers went on to say that they had considered delaying the event but that this was not possible due to logistical challenges.
The coronavirus outbreak is having a significant impact on the tech industry more broadly. It has caused production delays for gaming hardware, has obliged Samsung to shut down its South Korean factory which was making Galaxy Z Flip phones, and forced many companies to pull out of the upcoming Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Other events that have been canceled due to the outbreak include the Mobile World Congress, the world’s biggest smartphone conference, and the Facebook F8 developer conference.