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One Ten Year Journey Ends, Another Begins
by Urso Chappell


Expo 2010 Bid Display at Hannover's Expo 2000

China’s pavilion at Expo 2010 in Hannover, Germany advertised its bid to host Expo 2010.

Shanghai’s Expo 2010 finally opened on May 1st bringing to end ten years of bidding, planning, and building, but somewhere out there, Expo 2020 is just beginning.

Ten years ago, at Expo 2000 in Hannover, Germany, I had the privilege to attend my fifth world expo as well as visit my fifth China Pavilion. It isn’t unusual for a nation’s pavilion to promote its upcoming expos, but it was the first time I’d ever seen a nation promote its bid for a future world expo. 2010 seemed at the time so far in the future, you couldn’t imagine what it would be like, but here was Shanghai: proclaiming its plans to bid for Expo 2010. This past week, it became a reality.

It didn’t happen without a challenge, though. Five cities bid to host Expo 2010. The other cities were Wroclaw, Poland; Yeosu, South Korea; Moscow, Russia; and Querétaro, Mexico. In the end, Shanghai won and brought China its first international exposition.

Yeosu would go on to win the smaller recognized expo in 2012 and that Milan will host the next sanctioned exposition in 2015, but after that, who knows?

Cities are starting to line up to bid for a recognized exposition in 2017 or 2018 (tailor made for smaller cities and developing nations) and the big prize, Expo 2020, is also still out there waiting to be claimed.

North America hasn’t played host to an expo since Vancouver, Canada hosted Expo ‘86. Right now, city leaders in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada are making plans to bid for Expo 2017, which would celebrate Canada’s 150th year with an environmental and energy theme, recognizing that city’s role in energy production. There’s also been talk of Montreal, host of Expo ’67, bidding for Expo 2020.

The United States hasn’t played host to a world’s fair, as they are more commonly known there, since the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition in New Orleans. Unfortunately, that exposition suffered from low turnout and financial problems, which partly explains why there hasn’t been a United States expo since then. However, citizens throughout the United States are wondering whether 2020 will be the year that a world’s fair returns to the United States after 36 years. The question, though, is which city? San Francisco, Houston, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis have all been mentioned as possible contenders.

After 34 years, Europe ended its expo drought when Seville, Spain hosted Expo ’92 and has three since then. Several smaller cities from every corner of Europe have expressed interest in hosting an Expo 2017 or Expo 2018. Izmir, Turkey and Copenhagen, Denmark may also try to bid for the larger Expo 2020

Some ask whether it is now time for South America or Africa to finally invite the world to an expo on those continents. With Rio de Janiero becoming the first city in South America to host an Olympics in 2016, the question is how soon either continent might host an expo. Rio and São Paulo have both expressed interest in Expo 2020.

Brisbane, Australia hosted Expo 88 and some there have wondered if it is now time for them to host the world once again in 2020.

Hosting another world expo in Asia, Astana, Kazakhstan has considered bidding for 2017 and the Philippines and Thailand have looked toward 2020 as has the Chinese province of Guangdong. Dubai in the United Arab Emirates has also talked about bidding for either a 2020 Olympics or Expo 2020.

In the coming years, the bidding process for both expos will start to heat up and we’ll find out who wins.

The expo tradition continues and grows, and who knows, there might be a hint or two within the pavilions of Expo 2010 as to how that will happen.

This article was originally published in China Daily as part of a 6-part series.
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