Busan, Riyadh or Rome? 2030 World Expo host to be revealed today

If no candidate wins a two-thirds majority in the first round, the secret voting then goes to a run-off between the two top bids


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Published: Tue 28 Nov 2023, 5:49 PM

The host of the 2030 World Expo will be chosen on Tuesday, with Rome in Italy, the Saudi capital Riyadh and South Korea's Busan contending to welcome the showpiece event held every five years.

The World Expo — which traces its history back to the 1851 Great Exhibition in London and the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris that saw the construction of the Eiffel Tower — is a months-long mega event attracting millions of visitors that aims to respond to the specific challenges of the current time.

The hosting of the Expo is regulated by the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), whose 182 member states will vote for the winner at a conference in the French capital during the afternoon.

This year's event has been the subject of particularly intense lobbying from Italy, Saudi Arabia and South Korea, whose governments are all keen to have the honour of the 2030 World Expo.

Saudi Arabia is set to host the 2034 football World Cup after emerging as the only bidder for the event.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol was in the French capital only last week to make a final pitch for Busan's bid, while Italy's far-right Premier Georgia Meloni has pressed Rome's cause in Paris and elsewhere.

The host is chosen at the BIE's general assembly on Tuesday after the candidates each make a final presentation of their bid.

If no candidate wins a two-thirds majority in the first round, the secret voting then goes to a run-off between the two top bids, with just a simple majority then needed.

Every member state — large or small — has a single vote, meaning a vast global campaign is needed to ensure victory.

Busan wants to hold the Expo from May to October 2030 on the theme "Transforming Our World, Navigating Toward a Better Future".

Rome plans the Expo in the same period to be about "People and Territories: Regeneration, Inclusion and Innovation".

A Riyadh Expo would be from October 2030 to March 2031 on the theme "The Era of Change: Together for a Foresighted Tomorrow".

The most recent World Expo took place in 2020 in Dubai and the next World Expo is due in 2025 in Osaka, Japan, on the theme "Designing Future Society for Our Lives".

Other bids for 2030 came from the Russian capital, Moscow, and the Ukrainian city of Odesa.

Russia withdrew its bid in May 2022, shortly after its invasion of Ukraine, while Odesa did not make the final shortlist of three announced in June.


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