PARIS — The state of Minnesota lost its bid to host what would have been the first world’s fair on U.S. soil in almost 40 years when the organization that oversees the events voted Wednesday to make Argentina’s capital the site of one planned for 2022-2023.
The Trump administration has sought to boost American interest in world’s fairs, international displays of ingenuity that in the past brought the world the Eiffel Tower, the Ferris Wheel and Seattle’s Space Needle.
But in its latest vote, members of the Bureau of International Expositions, based in Paris, picked Buenos Aires over rivals Bloomington, Minnesota and Poland’s third-largest city, Lodz, to host a specialized World Expo.
Argentinians at the vote literally jumped for joy as the result was announced — and then started handing out white-and-blue soccer t-shirts with star Argentinian player Lionel Messi’s name on them.
Delegates donned the t-shirts on top of their suits as members of the Argentinian bid team hugged and kissed each other in excitement and relief.
It will be the first expo in Latin America under the auspices of the BIE, which began operations in 1931.
Full-scale World Expos that last six months are now held every five years, while three-month expos devoted to specific themes take place in intervening years.
The U.S. delegation was clearly disappointed, but the government was undeterred. The State Department said it “looks forward to working with other U.S. cities and states interested in bidding to host a future World’s Fair.”
The Minnesota bid committee and the U.S. State Department congratulated Argentina on its selection.
“I’m confident we’ve done nothing but good for our region, and for the advancement of the theme Healthy People, Healthy Planet,” board member Marilyn Carlson Nelson said in a statement.
Gov. Mark Dayton said the committee “put our state’s many accolades on the world stage, and demonstrated again why Minnesota is such a world-class place to live, work, and innovate.”
Minnesota had proposed a health-focused expo to capitalize on the state’s world-class medical institutions and medical device makers.
The Polish delegation looked especially grim after the defeat of its bid, on the theme of how post-industrial cities can reinvent themselves.
Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie said Buenos Aires’ bid is aimed at showing creative ways that smartphones and other increasingly accessible technology can “give people around the world an opportunity to have better lives.”
“We are very happy not only for my country but for South America,” Faurie told reporters in Paris as he invited countries around the world to mount exhibits at the expo.
Argentina’s organizers hope the event will attract at least 6 million visitors.
Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, is set to host the next full World Expo in 2020. A specialized expo focused on energy was held this year in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana.
Karnowski reported from Minneapolis.