The vote for the host city of the 2030 World Expo is set to take place in Paris on Tuesday, with South Korea's southeastern city of Busan making last-ditch efforts to pull off an upset in the competition against two other candidates.
The host country will be selected by the member states of the Bureau International des Expositions, the body responsible for overseeing the global event that can generate economic benefits and jobs, during its general assembly later in the day.
Busan is contending against Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Rome, Italy.
South Korean delegates and business leaders, led by Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, have been making their last-minute pitch in Paris to bring the event to Busan, by meeting with delegates from BIE member states to articulate Busan's vision and competence in transforming the World Expo into a platform addressing global issues.
"Until the final whistle is blown, both the government and the private sector will exert their utmost efforts," Han told reporters in Paris on late Monday.
Han also quoted President Yoon Suk Yeol as saying, "Give your best until the final whistle is blown." Yoon returned home Sunday from a trip to Europe that included a state visit to Britain and a final campaign in France to bring the 2030 World Expo to Busan.
The World Expo, known officially as International Registered Exhibitions, can last up to six months, with international participants building their pavilions on the Expo site.
Local authorities estimate the Busan Expo would bring economic benefits worth 61 trillion won ($47 billion) and attract over 50 million tourists. More than 500,000 new jobs are also expected to be created.
Busan is bidding to host the World Expo 2030 between May 1 and Oct. 31, 2030, under the theme "Transforming Our World, Navigating Toward a Better Future." The 2030 expo will follow the 2025 expo in Osaka, Japan.
At the general assembly later in the day, each of the three candidates will present their projects, followed by a secret ballot vote by government-appointed delegates representing member states.
During the presentation, South Korea plans to emphasize the Busan Expo serving as a platform addressing humanity's challenges, including war and conflict, the digital divide, and climate change.
"During the final presentation, we will highlight the unique strengths of the Busan Expo, including the efforts and desires of our citizens and government over the past decade, Busan's charm, and the support from participating countries," a government official said, on the condition of anonymity.
Busan plans to transform a 3.43-square-kilometer area of partially reclaimed land at a port into a venue, according to officials. The proposed site will be accessible via a hydrogen-powered tram from a new airport on the nearby island, set to be completed in late 2029.
According to the BIE, the vote will be cast based on one vote per country by 182 BIE member state representatives during the BIE General Assembly.
In the actual voting, either 179 or 180 member states are expected to participate, as some of the member states have failed to secure voting rights after failing to pay contributions.
Any candidate winning two-thirds of the vote will be decided as the host city. If no candidate wins a two-thirds majority, the top two candidates will advance to a runoff vote. Many observers believe the final race will likely be between Busan and Riyadh. (Yonhap)