Tokyo will support Busan’s bid to host 2030 event, Japanese paper reports
By Jung Min-ho
A Korean delegation will make its last case for Busan’s bid to host the World Expo 2030 as representatives of 182 member states of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), a governing body for the event, are preparing to vote in Paris on Tuesday (local time) to determine the host city.
Before departing for Paris, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo voiced his optimism. The long, unforgettable Expo journey of Team Busan is now coming down to its “final page,” he wrote in a statement posted on social media, Sunday.
“My mind is calm. Since launching a private-public bidding committee on July 8 last year, we have met 3,472 people including heads of state during a 509-day period, flying a distance that would encircle the Earth 495 times,” Han said. “With an unwavering heart, we will do our best to the very end, hoping to bring good news to everyone we are grateful to.”
Busan is competing fiercely with Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh and Italy’s Rome. Each bidder will be given an opportunity to deliver its final presentation at the BIE’s 173rd General Assembly before representatives of the member states vote for the host city by secret ballot.
The bidding committee has not revealed who would be the speakers. Ban Ki-moon, former secretary-general of the United Nations, and Na Seung-yeon, who played a significant role in winning the hosting rights of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics with her powerful presentation, are among those mentioned as the potential speakers, according to officials.
With three candidates competing to host the Expo, the successful host nation must receive two-thirds of votes to win outright. But that scenario is unlikely as the contest appears to be tight, officials in Korea said.
If no candidate gathers two-thirds of votes cast in the first round, the third-place candidate is eliminated and the other two will immediately move to a second round. The host city will then be elected by a simple majority.
The Saudi capital is regarded as the strongest candidate, with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman backing the kingdom-led campaign that, in the eyes of the competitors, promises to “shower” public investments in countries in return for their support. Dozens of countries have so far expressed their support for Riyadh, according to Arab media.
Yet Korean officials believe the gap is narrow and the outcome is impossible to foresee.
Under the theme “Transforming Our World, Navigating Toward a Better Future,” they have attempted to sell the message of hope and vision to developing countries — mostly in Africa as well as Central and South America. They think Korea’s extraordinary success story and Busan’s role in it could still be an inspiration for those seeking to emulate that story.
In recent months, Korean officials have concentrated resources on highlighting the Busan Initiatives, through which it offers long-term support for countries by providing training and knowhow rather than, say, financial aid for one-time construction projects.
In an encouraging move for Korean officials, Japan has decided to support Busan’s bid amid improving relations between Seoul and Tokyo, according to a report by Yomiuri Shimbun, a Japanese daily newspaper.
First opening in London in 1851 and quickly spreading to countries across the globe, the Expo ― also known as the World Fair ― has been a platform for great inventions and creative ideas. Taking place every five years and lasting up to six months, the event draws tens of millions of visitors from all over the world, providing a rare opportunity for the host city to promote its vision for the future and to transform itself.