November 28, 2023 13:36
Only hours remain before the General Assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions in Paris votes on the host city of the 2030 World Expo on Tuesday.
The final presentations begin with Busan, followed by Rome and Riyadh in 20-minute intervals, before representatives from 182 BIE member countries cast their ballot. The results are expected around midnight, Korean time.
If no city receives more than two-thirds support, a second round will take place between the top two. But local media reports indicate that over 120 countries have already expressed support for Saudi Arabia, so Korea is pulling out all the stops to catch up.
Thanks to Saudi Arabia's bottomless oil wealth, 66 of Africa's 68 member nations have declared for Riyadh, at what analysts estimate as a cost of US$15 billion in pledges from the desert kingdom.
Candidate countries can still try to sway delegates on site or through diplomatic channels since the voting decisions of individual representatives will not be disclosed publicly.
With massive support from Korean global conglomerates like Samsung, Hyundai and LG, Busan's promotional campaigns continue gamely in the French capital. An event to try on hanbok or traditional Korean dress was held on Monday at prominent sites like Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Louvre, targeting both Parisians and tourists. Another event took place on the Seine cruise ship featuring the red and blue Cheongsachorong or traditional Korean lanterns.
Around 2,500 buses and taxis with advertisements are navigating through Paris. Near the Arc de Triomphe, electronic billboards display the candidate city's slogan "Busan is Ready."
Korea hopes that the luminaries it has chosen to make the presentation can still dazzle delegates.
In rehearsal on Monday, the Korean delegation implemented strict security measures to conceal the speakers. Prime Minister Han Duck-soo attracted press attention at the event's main entrance as other potential speakers like former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tried to sneak in unnoticed. One female participant wore a big mask to add an element of mystery.
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