PARIS, Nov. 29 (Yonhap) – South Korea's Busan came up short in its bid to host the 2030 World Expo on Tuesday as Saudi Arabia's Riyadh won a resounding victory over Busan and Italy's Rome without a runoff vote.

Members of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the body responsible for overseeing the international fair with the potential to generate economic benefits and stimulate job creation, held a ballot in Paris after representatives from the three candidates made final presentations of their proposals.

In the first round of voting, the Saudi capital won 119 votes against Busan's 29 votes and Rome's 17 votes. Riyadh's votes were more than a two-thirds majority needed for a candidate to win without a runoff.

The Saudi delegation celebrated as the results were displayed on an electronic board, concluding the anonymous voting held in Issy-les-Moulineaux, the southwestern suburban area of the French capital.

Riyadh had been widely regarded as the frontrunner, propelled by a substantial marketing campaign from the early stages, despite last-minute lobbying efforts by South Korea in recent months.

Joining the campaign belatedly in July 2022, South Korean delegates and business leaders, led by Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, made a final pitch in Paris to secure the event for Busan. They engaged with delegates from BIE member states to convey Busan's vision.

However, despite cautious predictions by local authorities of a tight two-way race, South Korea's second-largest city failed to garner enough votes that would force a runoff.

"I sincerely apologize for not adequately reciprocating the support people have generously given us so far," Han told reporters after the vote, adding that the diplomatic assets gained from visiting 181 countries as part of the campaign would be further developed.

The presidential office issued a brief statement.

"The private and public sectors fought fiercely as one team but met an unfortunate result," senior presidential secretary for press affairs Kim Eun-hye said in a written briefing.

"We offer words of comfort and thanks to the citizens of Busan and the people, who waited until late in the night for the result and cheered for Busan's bid."

The World Expo, officially known as International Registered Exhibitions, has a legacy of fostering global innovation and cultural exchange since its inaugural event in London in 1851. The fair, lasting up to six months, involves international participants constructing pavilions on the Expo site.

The most recent Expo took place in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, attracting over 24 million visits in six months. The next Expo is scheduled for Osaka, Japan, in 2025.

Photo from Yonhap News