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Thailand’s City Drops from World Expo 2020 Competition
Thai city of Ayutthaya dropped from the competition for hosting World Expo 2020. Yesterday, the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) rejected the contender after it became clear the Thailand government was incapable to endorse the bid. Dubai, Izmir, Yekaterinburg, Sao Paulo are still in the race.
Thailand launched its campaign for World Expo 2020 in August 2010 with a theme Balanced Life, Sustainable Living which focused on His Majesty the King’s philosophy for sufficiency economy. According to the BIE inquiry mission team which visited Ayutthaya this winter, the city had a large potential to host the world fair. The theme centered on philosophy and sustainability was not only globally significant, but it also came in the right time. The other factor present for a successful bid was the fact that the city has met all the criteria, according to the inspection. But the thing that stood in its way was, surprisingly for many international experts, the lack of government support.
After the visit of BIE’s team which approved Ayutthaya, Thailand government was given two months to answer all questions related to the organization of the event and the project’s funding. Various legislative and diplomatic aspects were also under discussion. The government however failed to respond, which became the reason for rejection of Ayutthaya’s bid. Akrapol Sorasuchart, former president of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, said this was the worst possible scenario for dropping from the competition, even worse than an official disqualification. The loss not only resulted in a large waste of campaign money, but it also damaged Thailand image before the world.
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According to him, among the other contestants, Dubai has the biggest chance to host World Expo 2020. Unlike the old Thailand capital, Dubai is strongly supported by authorities. Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum himself, said in a press release that he wanted the emirate to host World Expo 2020 and to welcome over 25 million visitors during the six months. Experts believe Dubai’s bid is the best funded and endorsed by both government and private sectors, which gives it a great advantage. The city is also known as an international commercial and tourism hub and has a well-established infrastructure which will be of great importance for an exposition of such a scale.