CW Expo Reaction: Australia's Justin McGowan on Expo 2020 delay

EXCLUSIVE: Australia's commissioner general talks about participation, World Expo's delay, and pavilion construction

When Expo 2020 Dubai’s Steering Committee met on 30 March, participating countries expressed the need to postpone the World Expo’s opening by a year in light of the challenges caused by the global outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Following which, on 21 April the Executive Committee of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) commenced the process of agreeing a new date for Expo 2020 Dubai — 1 October 2021 to 1 March 2022.

This led the Construction Week team to find out what the officials spearheading the participation of various countries at the World Expo had to say about the postponement, and how it would affect the construction of these pavilions.

In this first episode of Construction Week's YouTube series — Expo Reaction — commissioner general of Australia at Expo 2020 Dubai, Justin McGowan spoke exclusively about everything from the postponement to construction of its pavilion, the budget as well as COVID-19 precautionary measures.

McGowan said that it was “a straight-forward decision” for Australia to participate at the Expo 2020 Dubai.

“We are great friends with the UAE and we’ve had a strong relationship for many years.”

He added: “In terms of Expos, we don’t take the decision lightly to participate in World Expos. The last World Expo we participated in was in Shanghai in 2010. We missed the World Expo in 2015, but this one [Expo 2020 Dubai] had a very compelling business case.”

According to McGowan, the hub nature of Dubai makes it the “perfect location” for the World Expo. “The financial, logistics, and the ideation hub, that is Dubai, is really a place where the world comes together,” he stressed.

When being asked, if the postponement of the World Expo affects construction activities at the Australia Pavilion — based on the theme ‘Blue Sky Dreaming’ — McGowan said that the proposed one year delay doesn’t affect the work “so much”.

He added: “We are on-track, even if the event was to open in October 2020, and not October 2021, which is fantastic.”

For more details about the conversation with the commissioner general check the video on Construction Week’s YouTube channel under the Expo Reaction series.

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