By TOMMY GRANDELL, Associated Press Writer
There won't be any cotton candy, but most other treats of a world fair
would be available in an Internet version of the global exposition
being prepared in Sweden.
The Swedish government and the organization responsible for running
the World Expo want to attract younger people and others without the
means to travel across the globe to visit a fair, officials said
Friday. They hope to have it up and running in three years.
"With an Internet World Expo, it might be possible to reach target
groups that are not interested in world expositions designed the way
they are today," said project leader Staffan Bjorck at the Swedish
The Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions, or BIE, the
governing body of international expos, has pledged euro200,000 to get
the project started, and the Swedish government is expected to do the
same, Bjorck said.
Organizers envision virtual pavilions from more than 100 countries, but
it is not yet known if USA will participate.
"The site will be an encyclopedia of different countries, their
cultures, traditions and music," said Bjorck, who is also vice
president of BIE. "Imagination is the only limit to the country
Each member's contribution would be vetted by the BIE, in the same
manner that physical pavilions are approved by the body.
Major World Expos are typically arranged every fifth year and run for
half a year. Some 22 million people visited the Expo 2005 in Aichi,
Japan, which ended its six-month run in September. The next World Expo
will be held in Shanghai, China, in 2010, with an estimated 70 million
The Internet World Expo would complement the physical fair, but would
run continuously and be updated with new themes. National pavilions
would be based on their physical counterparts, but the virtual
exhibition would also feature music, games, e-learning, an exposhop
and opportunities for dialogue and chat.
"It will open the doors of an exhibition to everybody worldwide, even
if it is not possible to say now how many people would 'visit' this
Expo," the BIE's Information and Communication Committee said in a
Nov. 15 document approving the project.
Organizers hope that more than 40 million people worldwide will visit
the site daily, with the target group being people ages 15-24.
"However, the exhibition will of course be open to everyone, and will
no doubt attract a considerably broader group," Bjorck said.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.
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