Crowds Endure Waits as Shanghai’s Expo Opens

From the Associated Press:

A steady flow of visitors joined long lines in sweltering heat at the World Expo 2010 on Sunday, a day after organizers said visitor numbers were just more than half of what was expected.

Organizers say they are still grappling with estimates about just how many people will attend the massive event aimed at showcasing China’s rise as a modern industrial power. Early estimates put the number of visitors over the six-month run of the World Expo at 70 million, the vast majority of whom are expected to come from China.

High temperatures and bottlenecks at security checks and long waits to enter the various pavilions are challenging organizers. On Saturday, when the event opened, organizers said about 350,000 tickets had been sold for Day 1, but about 200,000 people attended.

Watch also the opening ceremony of the Shanghai’s Expo, from CCTV.

In the Telegraph, Malcolm Moore gives his reviews of opening day at the Expo:

As the have-nots queued in the unrelenting heat, and were bombarded with expensive trinkets and endless Coca-Cola concessions, China’s new class of VIPs and princelings were whisked between pavilions in electric buggies and handed glasses of champagne in plush entertainment suites.

If the Beijing Olympics dazzled the world with China’s creativity and magic, the Shanghai Expo shows another side of the country: its ability to deliver a slick corporate event – albeit one with all the soul and charm of a limp prawn sandwich.

Shanghai has gambled hugely on the six-month event, investing at least £35 billion – far more than the cost of the Beijing games. The government has been keen to hype the event as a “Business Olympics”, and on the Expo site the message quickly becomes clear.

Hulking pavilions extol the virtues of oil (slogan: “Extending City’s Dreams), General Motors and Cisco, while even the no-smoking signs in the US pavilion are sponsored by Pfizer. KFC and Pizza Hut are omnipresent.

However, money cannot buy everything, and there was little yesterday to wow the crowds.

See also: “China Opens Doors to World Expo, Visitors Face Long Lines” from VOA and “Shanghai Expo Visitors Exceed Those on Opening Day (Update1)” from Business Week.

May 1, 2010 11:22 PM
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