The Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) has rejected Thailand as a contender to host the World Expo 2020 after the government failed to endorse the bid.
The campaign for World Expo 2020 Ayutthaya kicked off with a bang in August, 2010, but international organisers said it fizzled, with no sign of government support. (File photo)
The BIE executive committee on Tuesday unanimously accepted a recommendation from its inquiry mission team to drop Thailand's bid to host World Expo 2020, according to BIE documents obtained by the Bangkok Post.
The team visited Ayutthaya from Jan 28 to Feb 1 this year and gave the government until April 5 to answer its questions about the project's financial, legislative, organisational and diplomatic aspects. But the failure of the government to respond had cast doubts on the project's feasibility.
The team said Ayutthaya had the potential to host the grand event, adding the proposed theme, centred on His Majesty the King's sufficiency economy philosophy, had merit.
The country's interest in the philosophy could have been shared with the world, the team said in its report.
The mission also said the theme was timely and significant at a global level. It also took stock of Thailand's experience in successfully hosting several events.
PM's Office Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan, who oversees the issue, told the Bangkok Post he had not acknowledged the rejection.
Akrapol Sorasuchart, former president of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), said Thailand's bid to host the prestigious event is not on the agenda of the BIE's two-day meeting which began Tuesday in Paris.
Akrapol: Loss was our own fault
The meeting will consider the remaining candidates _ Russia, Turkey, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Brazil, he said.
The BIE made an inspection visit to Thailand early this year and found the old capital of Ayutthaya met its key criteria, the former TCEB chief said.
However, Thailand's ambitious plan to host the world's largest fair hit a snag when the Pheu Thai Party-led government failed to confirm its support for the bid, he said.
The BIE secretary had earlier sent a letter to the government via the Foreign Affairs Ministry's ambassador asking it to confirm its backing for the plan and reply to the bureau before April 5.
The government did not respond, Mr Akrapol said.
"It would have been better if the BIE had disqualified our country or other countries had outdone us. But we lost because of our own fault," Mr Akrapol said.
The prime minister cannot deny responsibility over the issue, he said.
Mr Akrapol said he thinks Dubai is now the favourite to host the event.
The loss has damaged the country's image and the money spent campaigning for the country has all been wasted, he said.
On Aug 24, 2010, the Abhisit Vejjajiva government announced Thailand's bid to host the World Expo 2020, with Ayutthaya selected as the venue.
According to a Government House source, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra seemed uncommitted to the project.
Despite that, she told a cabinet meeting on Feb 12 that Thailand had not withdrawn its bid to make way for Dubai, the source said.
Tourism and Sports Minister Somsak Pureesrisak said he felt sorry the country was out of the running.
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- Writer: Pradit Ruangdit