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Aftermath: CES Staying in Vegas, MWC in Barca Through 2023

The organizers of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and Mobile World Congress (MWC) separately say that the huge tech trade shows will take place in their respective Las Vegas and Barcelona locations in 2018, despite the Mandalay Bay mass shooting Sunday evening, and the ongoing protests for Catalan independence from Spain in Barcelona.

Both the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and the GSM Association (GSMA) , however, said they were monitoring the respective situations in Barcelona and Vegas, while separately noting that they each have long-term relationships with the cities.

Las Vegas is still reeling from a mass shooting that killed at least 58 people and injured more than 500. The killer -- named by police as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock -- staged his attack from a hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, itself a favored location for tech events and CES attendees.

In Barcelona, meanwhile, the regional government of Catalonia held a referendum vote on independence on October 1, which Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called a "mockery" of democracy, according to the BBC. Riot police and the military were used to quell demonstrations in Barcelona on Sunday and beyond, although public protests have continued. Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, meanwhile, has said the north-eastern region could declare independence within days. The European Parliament will debate the still-developing situation on Wednesday evening.

Neither the Vegas mass shooting nor the push for Catalan independence can have been a total shock to event organizers. Discord about the independence -- or otherwise -- of Catalonia started in 2006. And there have been a number of mass shootings in the US in recent years.

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Light Reading asked both the CTA and the GSMA about the future of the events in their respective cities. Here's what they said:

"Our thoughts and prayers continue with the entire Las Vegas community. For 30 years, Las Vegas has been home to CES and will be for the foreseeable future. No other venue in the world has three one-million square foot convention centers to host CES' 4,000 plus exhibitors and 180,000 visitors. CTA is closely monitoring the situation and CES as always will continue to work in close cooperation with law enforcement officials at all levels to maximize security on-site at CES," Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA, said in an email sent to Light Reading.

"The GSMA has an agreement in place with the Barcelona City Partners making Barcelona the Mobile World Capital and the host city of the GSMA Mobile World Congress through 2023," a GSMA press representative told Light Reading Tuesday. "We will continue to monitor developments in Spain and Catalonia and assess any potential impact for the location of the Mobile World Capital and the GSMA Mobile World Congress."

As the somewhat guarded responses indicate, there are no easy answers for either organization. In part, that's because these events are put together years ahead of time, and only a few cities have the infrastructure to cater to an influx of tens of thousands of attendees for several days to a week.

For 2018, CES will implement photo ID badges -- along with government-issued IDs -- for attendees entering the show grounds.

The GSMA requires that you show your passport to get onto the show grounds. There have been regular protests around the MWC grounds in recent years, obviously, the GSMA cannot control the scope and scale of any protests outside the Fira event itself.

Ultimately, however, there is only so much either organization can do.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

DanJones 10/5/2017 | 11:21:18 AM
Unfair? Perhaps it was unfair to ask the orgs to comment on their situations? After all, not of their making, I thought it was relevant though.
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