Geneva (dpa) - The Geneva Motor Show falls victim to the corona virus. Due to the increasing number of sick people, the Swiss government banned all major events with more than 1,000 people on Friday.

This also affects the spring meeting of the automotive industry in Europe, which was due to start on Monday and was expected to attract 600,000 visitors. The Baselworld watch fair was also canceled shortly thereafter, although the ban on major events initially only applies until 15 March. Baselworld would have taken place from April 30th to May 5th.

"We regret this situation, but the health of everyone involved is an absolute priority for us and our exhibitors," said Maurice Turrettini, head of the motor show in Geneva. «This is a case of force majeure. For the exhibitors who have invested heavily in their presence in Geneva, this is a bitter loss. » Now the dismantling has to be organized. The tickets already sold would be refunded. Many exhibitors had previously announced that they would only travel with a reduced team.

The German car manufacturers are now presenting their new models on the Internet. On Friday they unanimously showed understanding for the decision of the Swiss government to ban all major events and therefore the auto show due to the virus epidemic.

BMW wanted to celebrate the world premiere of the Concept i4 in Geneva on Tuesday - a fully electric Gran Coupé that will roll off the assembly line in Munich next year and compete with Tesla. Now BMW boss Oliver Zipse wants to show the vehicle in a digital press conference from the BMW research center in Munich. It is to be transmitted via live stream.

Audi planned the world premiere of the Audi A3 Sportback in Geneva and wanted to introduce two new variants of the large, fully electric e-tron, the e-tron S and the e-tron S Sportback. Now the whole thing takes place in Ingolstadt. "For customers, interested parties and the trade press, Audi will broadcast an online world premiere on March 3 in the Audi Media Center and on Audi's social media channels," explained the VW subsidiary.

Mercedes said: “Our press conference planned for Tuesday in Geneva will take place in digital form. We look forward to many virtual participants. » Mercedes wants to show the revised E-Class and new plug-in hybrid models of the compact class. When is still open.

The Geneva Motor Show should have started on Monday afternoon with an award for the “Car of the Year” and the first press events and should have opened its doors to the public on Thursday.