This story has been updated with new information.
The coronavirus has impacted automotive production and sales around the world and now it’s forced the cancellation of the Geneva Motor Show March 3, as Swiss government officials seek to control the potential spread of the virus.
There had been speculation that the show might be forced to shut down as more and more cases of the virus began showing up around the world. There are 15 reported cases in Switzerland.
Italy has at least 650 infections and 17 deaths, while French officials have reported 38 cases and two deaths. Show organizers said there was no choice but to shut down the event, which was already pared down as automakers have been cutting down the number of shows they participate in for several years now.
(Coronavirus could scuttle Geneva Motor Show.)
“We regret this situation, but the health of all participants is our and our exhibitors’ top priority,” said Maurice Turrettini, chairman of the Foundation Board. “We would like to warmly thank all those involved in the organization of the 2020 edition of GIMS.
“This is a case of force majeure and a tremendous loss for the manufacturers who have invested massively in their presence in Geneva. However, we are convinced that they will understand this decision.”
The New York International Auto Show is the next major auto show. Organizers are still determining what, if any, impact the coronavirus will have on the show, an official told TheDetroitBureau.com, adding an announcement will come later today.
The world’s automotive media was set to begin rolling in to the 90th edition of the show at the Palexpo this weekend with the event beginning for journalists only on Monday. The public show was set to run from March 5-15.
(Global auto sales expected to fall 2.5% this year as coronavirus impact spreads.)
The cancellation was forced as government officials, hoping to stem any spreading of the virus, said “no events with more than 1,000 people are allowed to take place until 15 March 2020. The decision falls 3 days before the opening of the exhibition to the media,” organizers noted on its website.
The show was still on track, according to the organizers, a “few days” ago with the construction of the stands nearly complete and the final press release schedule set. “… there was nothing to suggest that such a measure was necessary. The situation changed with the appearance of the first confirmed coronavirus diseases in Switzerland.” Switzerland’s Federal Council met today and cancelled large events.
Show officials acknowledged that there is now plenty of work to do, especially organizing the break down of exhibits. It also recognized the “financial consequences for all those involved in the event are significant and will need to be assessed over the coming weeks.” Tickets to the public show will be refunded.
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According to the organizers, roughly 220 exhibitors attend the annual car show, along with 10,000 journalists and 660,000 visitors. The show is the second large event called off in Europe. The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was cancelled last week due to concerns about the virus.