MOSCOW, April 1 (RIA Novosti) – The inspectors have left, and now Russia’s fourth largest city can rest a bit while its bid to host the Expo 2020 World Fair gets scrutinized. If Yekaterinburg wins, it would not only become the first Russian city to stage the exhibition, but will need to pump billions of dollars into everything from roads and airports to hotels and pavilions.
Late last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev threw their support behind Yekaterinburg’s bid during a visit by the inspection commission of the Paris-based International Bureau of Expositions.
Moscow pledged far-reaching financial assistance – an indispensable commitment, as most of the city’s infrastructure development would have to be bankrolled with government money.
If the bid – to be decided on by late November – is successful, Yekaterinburg, located in the Ural Mountains dividing Europe and Asia, would also have to attract an estimated $10 billion to $15 billion in private investment.
The city has had some experience with international events in the past. In 2009, it hosted a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as well as the first formal summit of the initial four BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), before South Africa joined the group.
For its Expo 2020 bid, called “The Global Mind: The Future of Globalization and Its Impact on Our World,” Yekaterinburg’s plans range far and wide:
– To set aside 400 hectares of land for exhibition facilities, which will include a 200,000-square-meter pavilion called Rossiya and five smaller thematic pavilions (total area 90,000 square meters);
– To upgrade the city’s airport and add direct international flights;
– To upgrade existing hotels and build new ones by 2018 (in time for Russia’s hosting of World Cup soccer games, some of which will be played in Yekaterinburg);
– To build a multifunctional complex for sports competitions, concerts and other major events;
– To build a 21-hectare Expo village, a residential neighborhood designed to accommodate exhibition participants;
– To set up zones of “free entrepreneurship.”
Russia has never hosted a world fair expo, but has taken part in most of them. The six-month event – an international demonstration of technical and technological achievement by states, organizations and individuals alike – has been held every five years since 1851, with the first in London. The host for 2015 will be Milan.
Yekaterinburg’s competitors are Izmir in Turkey, Ayutthaya in Thailand, Sao Paolo in Brazil and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.