İzmir's bid to host the World EXPO 2020 ended in disappointment today after the Aegean city was eliminated in the second round of voting by delegates of the Bureau of International Expositions, with Dubai winning over Ekaterinburg in the final round to bring the world's fair to the Middle East for the first time ever Hurriyetdailynews reported.
İzmir received 36 votes in the second round of voting, while Dubai advanced to the final round with 87 votes to Ekaterinburg's 41. Sao Paulo was eliminated in the first round of the voting.
Dubai won the race after receiving 116 votes in the last round to Ekaterinburg's 47.
Despite competing with economically dynamic cities, İzmir was unable to seal the deal with its theme, "New Routes to a Better World / Health for All."
The Turkish delegation was headed by Transport Minister Binali Yildirim. Yildirim said ahead of the voting that the Turkish delegations at the ministerial level, ministry representatives, EXPO authorities, embassies and the business world had held talks with 97 percent of 167 BIE member countries.
Turkey slams voting, calls for 'strengthening' of selection rules
After the announcement of the results, Yildirim harshly criticized Dubai's selection and the voting process to host such world events.
"This voting has proved one more reality: The credibility of these sorts of organizations will be questioned more from now on. In fact, the loser is not İzmir, nor Turkey, but those candidates that aim to obtain results [while ignoring] ethical values," Yildirim told reporters in his first reaction following the vote.
"What should be done now is to outline stronger principles and rules for the selection systems and methods for such events. The residents of İzmir should know that nothing has changed from our point of view. İzmir has not lost, but won. We have done everything that we should have within the boundaries of legitimacy," Yildirim said.
For his part, Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu insisted on the importance of İzmir's theme, health, which was inspired by Hippocrates, the "father of medicine" who was a past inhabitant of the Aegean city. He also slammed what he referred to as "intrigues" during the voting process.
"There is no reason to let the voting bring our motivation down. We have to take lessons from the intrigues that have happened here; there have been very clear intrigues," Muezzinoglu said.
World Expos, which participating countries use to showcase technological prowess, culture and architecture, are held every five years for six months. Milan will host the next one in 2015. Last year, Astana, Kazakhstan was awarded the 2017 World Expo. The last EXPO was hosted by Shangai in 2010.