Rome left the Expo with just 17 votes. Riyad was the winning candidate with 119 votes. Pusan got 29 votes. Riyadh’s success in its bid to win Expo 2030 has defied expectations. Among the Arabs, after the decision of the BIE delegates who voted 165 out of 182, there is a huge celebration at the Palais des Congresses between traditional songs, kisses and hugs.
In the end, Riyadh won as expected, but the game never got off the ground: 119 votes for the Saudis out of 165 voting delegates, 29 for hardline Busan and 17 for Rome. Yesterday it expressed hope of getting up to 50 more votes.
A complete and unexpected failure of its proportions: “Until the last minute, neither we nor the Koreans had numbers of this magnitude, so something must have happened even in the last mile,” says disappointed ambassador Giampiro Masolo after the vote. It was he, head of the promotion committee who served as Rome’s candidate for Expo 2030 for two years, who raised his tone after the vote: “I don’t criticize, I don’t accuse, I don’t have evidence, but business drift is about governments and sometimes it affects individuals.”
Masolo’s scathing words attempt to explain the capital’s 360-degree failure and a high-profile redevelopment plan for part of the city. Riyadh spent 190 million euros on the advertising campaign, a drop from official figures of 160 by Busan and just 30 by Rome.
A defeat was already felt around the Palais des Congres in Issy-les-Moulineaux, a suburb of Paris, where the BIE suffered a decisive vote. There, celebratory Koreans dressed in traditional white clothes and escorted delegates to the polls in black cars, singing and clapping their hands. He also paid tribute to Paris by singing “O Champs-Élysées” in Korean.
But above all, there were many Saudis in Mercedes with open windows and stereo systems blasting Arabic music, who hugged and celebrated before the delegation arrived. As the eligible voters got out of the cars, they were greeted, taken to the polling booth, clapped and chanted Riyadh’s name without exception. And exchange smiles and pats on the back with them. In the press room, while the ceremony of awarding the candidate cities was underway, many of the Saudis present were already in a celebratory phase, hugging each other and arranging to meet this evening, at the Place Vendôme, for a pledging party. To be remembered. However, very little Italian was present in Issy-les-Moulineaux, apart from the official delegation led by Rome Mayor Roberto Gualtieri, Sports Minister Andrea Abodi and Masolo.
Along with them, the three women chosen by Rome to symbolize this final, Trudy Styler, Bebe Vio and Sabrina Impacciatore. Despite their efforts, as Masolo denounced, it could have already been written: “We played a game according to the rules of the international community, and competitions win in projects, quality, ideas. Some representatives said they promised us. Before there were projects, competitors and applications”. According to the chairman of the promotion committee, “something must have happened even in the last mile, nobody knew of a debacle of this proportion”. Mayor Gualtieri admitted that Rome had a “beautiful plan” but that Riyadh’s success was “overwhelming”. “Unfortunately – he regretted – you do not win with the prizes of the critics or the public, but with the votes of the ambassadors”. Minister Abodi looks ahead: “I don’t think that the universality of Rome necessarily passes through universal expression”. According to him, “There was a quality document and the government gave its full support to it from day one. This is what the national team is all about”. For Roberta Angelilli, vice president of the Lazio region, “Rome needs to grow, it needs to measure more about the future, innovations, new technologies, research. We need to recover a winning image”..
Reactions in Italy
“Rome’s defeat at the Expo was a galactic fool for both Gualtieri and Meloni. It doesn’t matter if you lose. Getting only 17 votes shows an inconsistency that Italy doesn’t deserve. It is now clear to everyone that international sovereigns are not trustworthy. The Capitol must move on because this administration is not working,” the senator wrote on his social media channels. Enrico Borghi, Group Leader in the Senate of Italia Viva.
“A lost opportunity for Rome but also for the Expo. A candidacy poorly born and poorly supported. What a shame.” Executive Chairman Carlo Calenda wrote this on social media
“The final outcome of the polls beyond expectations is very severe for our candidature. We know it is very difficult, but the result is punishing us a lot“Thus said the President Unindustria Angelo Camilli in Paris, On the margins of the vote for Expo 2030. “However, a great job has been done by the committee and the organization of the organizations affiliated to the foundation – he adds – obviously we have to accept the failure and think about it and profit. In the next cases from this experience, a reflection should be made on the values implemented: Saudi Arabia is a beyond the forecasts has exerted a very strong pressure of a commercial nature. As if Europe were not a continent. It gave an open approval to Rome’s candidacy, but in fact, looking at the votes we received, it is clear that even Europe was not united in voting for our candidacy. Therefore, the experience and treasure of this candidacy for the leader of industrialists. ESSENTIAL: As announced by Mayor Gualtieri after the end of the vote, we believe that the very beautiful project will still be implemented. With enough time and funds, we can redevelop our suburbs, and the support of the government during the election campaign”.
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