GERMANY - Expo 2000 Computer Glitch : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

[Fair Use: For Educational and Research Purposes Only]

Expo 2000 Gets Off To A Shaky Start In Hanover

June 6, 2000 Alan Hall In Berlin

THE camels got the hump over the heat and noise, the computers packed up on day two and the attendance levels are on a par with a middling football club at an away game.

Expo 2000, the #1 billion trade fair that was supposed to be the biggest and best expo ever staged, has got off to a shaky start since the chancellor, Gerhard Schrvder, cut the ribbon on it last week.

The computer glitch forced organisers on Friday to cut ticket prices by nearly #7 to #23 because the advance sales system  in a fair promoting the technology of the future  packed up. Visitors wanting to buy their tickets at travel agencies and main railway stations were unable to do so.

The reduced prices were on offer at the site itself  a site so vast it would take nine hours to walk around it all. Despite the reductions attendance projections, already revised downwards once, plunged further with only 70,000 people there on Saturday.

The original estimate had been for 300,000 visitors a day.

The camels from the United Arab Emirates were the centrepiece of their nations pavilion. Overawed by the chaos, heat and noise, they have been sent to an animal rest centre in the Black Forest until their surroundings are upgraded.

"Well bring them back as soon as their stalls are improved," an Expo spokeswoman said.

Cash-wise, at the weekend the fair was nearly #700,000 in the red.

Other setbacks included a moving walkway in the Planet of Experience pavilion that refused to move, a worker breaking his arm in a fall from a cable car and a threat that could result in the army being called out to save the entire affair.

Germanys public sector unions  the OTV and DAG  are on a collision course for strike action over what they call a "pathetic" 1.8 per cent pay offer from the government.

Balloting began yesterday, and if walkouts are approved there will be no rubbish collection, cleaning, transport or ancillary services for the Expo site. The first strikes have been threatened for 13 June.

On top of all this is the embarrassment of the United States being absent from a fair paying homage to the technology of the future. Not enough corporate sponsors could be found among private industry and a law forbids the US government from financing private enterprise.

The US pulled out at the last minute, but a fair spokeswoman insisted: "I think it is embarrassing for the Americans not to be represented at the fair, not for us."

Then there is the question of other side-shows taking up more media space than the pavilions themselves.

The Russian mob has moved in wholesale to buy up large tracts of property in the host city, Hanover, to open up brothels to service the largely expense-account clientele expected over the next five months.

Some 5,000 good-time girls looking to make a killing have moved in. "We view it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make real money," said one. "There are more businessmen here than in Wall Street. Wed be mad to stay away."

There was violence among mobsters fighting for turf before the Expo opened but mercifully none since the ribbon was cut on Wednesday.

Problems aside, the latest Expo in a line stretching back to the Great Exhibition of 1851, when Englands Prince Albert conceived the idea as a platform to display the technological prowess of the British Empire, will undoubtedly be a success.

The 1889 one bequeathed the world the Eiffel Tower; the 1958 Brussels Expo the Atomium and the 1962 fair the Space Needle

Others saw Thomas Edison and the founder of aspirin show off their wares.

The Hanover Expo has no last structure to capture the imagination, not unless you consider a replica door of No 10 Downing Street at the British pavilion  Britain is being sold on "diversity"  a startling sight.

Hanover is likely to be remembered as the first internet-age Expo, a dot-com effort where everything looked wonderful on the web.

Cyberspace is different from the real world, however. Just ask the camels.


-- (, June 06, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ