Foreign affairs of Argentine Jorge Faurie of Argentina delivers a speech at
the 162nd General Assembly of BIE, in Paris, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. The
Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) is the intergovernmental
organization in charge of overseeing and regulating World Expos, since 1931.
Argentina will host Specialized Expo 2022/23. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Minneapolis (AP) -
Minnesota is hoping to host the first World’s Fair on U.S. soil in nearly 40
years, but it will have to overcome bids by Poland’s third-largest city,
Lodz, and the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires when a winner is selected in
the coming days.
The events that
introduced the world to the Eiffel Tower, Space Needle and Ferris Wheel have
lost some of their cultural relevance in an age of globalization and cheap
air travel. But World’s Fairs - now referred to as World Expos for the
largest events held every five years and as specialized expos for smaller
ones in other years - still draw millions of visitors and allow hosts to
The Bureau of
International Expositions will choose the site of the 2022 or 2023
specialized expo on Wednesday in Paris. Minnesota’s theme is health and
wellness, Lodz’s is the reinvention of cities and Buenos Aires’ highlights
creative industries in the digital era.
Here’s a closer look:
What are expos?
According to the BIE,
expos are global events aimed at “educating the public, sharing innovations,
promoting progress and fostering cooperation.” They’re meant to bring the
world together to find solutions to some fundamental challenge of humanity.
Visitors tour pavilions where participating countries and organizations
showcase their contributions on the theme, while experts and diplomats
attend conferences on the sidelines.
expos are held every five years, while smaller, three-month “specialized
expos” on specific themes, which are what the BIE is currently considering,
fall in between. World leaders often visit.
“Expos remind us that
there is much more that binds us together than separates us,” Jim Core,
director of the international exhibitions unit at the U.S. State Department,
told The Associated Press by phone from Paris on Friday.
Many Americans have
lost sight of how big these events are because the U.S. hasn’t hosted one
since New Orleans did so in 1984, but the Milan World Expo in 2015 drew
around 20 million visitors, according to the BIE. This summer’s specialized
expo on Future Energy in Astana, Kazakhstan, drew 4 million people, and the
2020 Dubai World Expo is expected to draw about 25 million, the BIE says.
Minnesota has proposed
a specialized expo for 2023 on the theme “Healthy People, Healthy Planet.”
It would trade on the state’s reputation as a center of innovation and
excellence in health and wellness, the leader of the bid committee, former
Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, said from Paris. Minnesota is
home to world-class health care institutions including the Mayo Clinic,
medical device makers such as Medtronic, and insurers such as UnitedHealth.
The site would be near
the Mall of America, one of the country’s biggest shopping centers, which is
located in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington. The committee projects
that it will draw around 12 million visitors, including nearly 220,000
international visitors, with a total impact on the local economy of $1.5
The State Department is
vigorously lobbying on Minnesota’s behalf, a bigger diplomatic effort than
Poland’s or Argentina’s, Ritchie said. It has hosted events in Washington,
Paris and other cities, while its embassies and consulates around the world
are promoting the bid. It also brought foreign ambassadors to Minnesota.
Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will be in Paris to cast the U.S.
The U.S. left the
Bureau of International Expositions in 2001 as congressional interest waned
following the end of the Cold War, said Matthew Asada, the State
Department’s expo program officer. But President Donald Trump signed a bill
in May, the “U.S. Wants to Compete for a World Expo Act,” to rejoin and put
the U.S. back in the game.
The bid theme of the
central Polish city of Lodz for 2022 is “City Re: Invented” and focuses the
revitalization of post-industrial cities. The city’s expo website says the
event would kick-start a second wave of modernization and share Poland’s
expertise in “urban regeneration” with the rest of the world.
“Lodz is writing an
extraordinary story of how to successfully combat a permanent social and
infrastructural crisis,” the website states. The city expects about 8
Lodz is Poland’s
third-largest city, an hour away from the capital Warsaw. It became a
thriving industrial city in the 19th century but lost momentum after
communist rule ended in 1989. The demise of its big textile plants fueled
unemployment and decay. But the city says it has undergone a rebirth lately,
including the restoration of many of the inner city’s richly decorated
tenement houses from the late 1800s and revitalization around the main
Buenos Aires has
offered a 2023 expo on “Creative Industries in Digital Convergence.” If
approved, it would be the first expo in Latin America under the auspices of
the BIE, which began operations in 1931. Several were held in Latin America
before then, though.
“It will be a
celebration of human creativity, in which no one should be left out,”
Argentine government minister Gabriela Ricardes said last month in a
presentation to the Organization of American States.
Buenos Aires expects
over 6 million visitors, including 250,000 international tourists. “They
will be able to discover the latest innovations in the technological
industries, the newest proposals from the world of creativity, and
multimedia, artistic, scientific and technological content from Argentina
and the participating countries,” its expo website says.
Members of the Bureau of International Expositions, based in
Paris, picked Buenos Aires to host a specialized World Expo.
Argentinians at the
vote literally jumped for joy as the result was announced - and then started
handing out white-and-blue soccer t-shirts with star Argentinian player
Lionel Messi’s name on them.
Delegates donned the
t-shirts on top of their suits as members of the Argentinian bid team hugged
and kissed each other in excitement and relief.
It will be the first
expo in Latin America under the auspices of the BIE, which began operations
Minister Jorge Faurie said Buenos Aires’ bid is aimed at showing creative
ways that smartphones and other increasingly accessible technology can “give
people around the world an opportunity to have better lives.”
“We are very happy not
only for my country but for South America,” Faurie told reporters in Paris
as he invited countries around the world to mount exhibits at the expo.
hope the event will attract at least 6 million visitors.
Dubai, in the United
Arab Emirates, is set to host the next full World Expo in 2020. A
specialized expo focused on energy was held this year in Kazakhstan’s