Expo leaders say H1N1 won't hurt attendance

By Qian Yanfeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-11-13 09:57
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The spread of H1N1 flu will have little impact upon next year's World Expo in Shanghai, organizers of the event said Thursday.

"From the present experience, we see that the flu can be prevented and placed under control despite its rampant spread around the world. So we don't think the flu is a major issue here," Zhou Hanmin, deputy director of the World Expo 2010 Shanghai Executive Committee, told China Daily on the sidelines of the Seventh International Forum on Expo 2010 Thursday in Beijing.

"As the organizers, we'll come up with all necessary countermeasures to ensure health and security for next year's big event. In fact, health is always a big concern in our planning, even without the threat of the H1N1 flu," he said, without elaborating on the potential measures involved.

So far there is no plan to place restrictions on the number of visitors to the Expo, he said.

Vicente Loscertales, secretary general of the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions, also said he did not see any potential impact from the infectious disease upon the Expo.

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"I don't think there would be any impact. Shanghai is very safe and we'll say to the outside world there is no risk in coming," he said.

"It is far too important an event to miss. The interest to experience the Expo will be so strong that personally I don't think it will hinder people from coming," said Annika Rembe, Commissioner General of the Swedish Committee for Expo 2010 in Shanghai.

Organizers also said construction for the six-month event has been going smoothly, with all pavilions and infrastructure in the 5.28-sq-km Expo site to be completed by March.

They also expressed confidence that the US pavilion will be finished on time.

The US is blocked from using government funds for any expo, due to a 1991 law banning this practice. There had been much speculation about whether the US would take part in the Shanghai expo, but US officials finally confirmed its attendance in July.

Previous media reports also said the US had raised about two-thirds of the $61 million it needs to build its pavilion.

"We have no doubt in the US's ability to secure the rest of the funds," Zhou said.

Expo Shanghai Online, a virtual park corresponding to the 5.28-sq-km site of the physical Expo using three-dimensional technologies, was also officially launched Thursday in a bid to attract more people to the event.

People around the globe who cannot make it to the real Expo next year will be able to view the images of pavilions at www.expo.cn from home. On this site more than 200 countries and international organizations will demonstrate their latest technologies and best urban life experiences.

The expo will be accompanied by an online presentation for the first time in its 158 years' history. The website will be preserved after the Expo ends next October, creating an everlasting virtual exhibition for future generations.

As of this month, 217 countries and international organizations, as well as 38 Urban Best Practice Area cases, had confirmed development of their online pavilions. So far only 44 of them are available, with the remaining to be put online by next May.

The English version of the website will be accessible by January, organizers said.

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