CW Expo Reaction: Finland's Severi Keinälä on Expo 2020 Dubai delay

EXCLUSIVE: The commissioner general talks about the World Expo, construction of the pavilion, & HSE in the latest video

Following Expo 2020 Dubai’s announcement on the year-long postponement of the World Expo, which will now run from 1 October, 2021 to 31 March, 2022, Construction Week has been speaking to the officials spearheading the participation of various countries at the world’s greatest event.

The change in dates for the World Expo was announced after a two-thirds majority of the Bureau International des Expositions’ (BIE) member states voted in favour of postponing the World Expo by a year, even before the said deadline of 29 May, 2020.

In the fifth episode of Construction Week’s YouTube series — Expo Reaction — the commissioner general of Finland at Expo 2020 Dubai, Severi Keinälä spoke about the health and safety of workers being taken care of as the world fights the COVID-19 pandemic, the construction progress on the Snow Cape-themed Finnish Pavilion, as well plans on securing the pavilion’s structure during the hibernation period, before the opening of the World Expo.

Keinälä told Construction Week that he represents the Northern European Committee in Expo 2020 Dubai Steering Committee.

Talking about the one-year delay of the World Expo, he said: “We had a very lively discussion among the commissioners and the Steering Committee and beyond about the pandemic situation and its impact on Expo. Gradually we all agreed the situation was serious enough that there was no other option, but the postponement of Expo.”

“I am extremely happy that Expo [2020] and BIE could make the decision in a very fast way, and we could all adapt to the situation, and we all unanimously wanted to create the world’s greatest show that was not possible this year but next year it will be.”

Speaking about on-going discussions on the budget for Finland’s participation and the ne costs bearing the one-year delay in mind, Keinälä said: “Nobody had budgeted an additional year, so now we have to seek to minimise the additional costs, and find new sources of funding for the additional costs that occur from the postponement.”

At the Finnish Pavilion, “the construction progress continues on-track with slight delays of a few days, [and] nothing major”, according to the commissioner general.

Following the postponement, Finland plans to postpone certain activities at the pavilion that focuses on the theme “Shaping Future Happiness”, and which was topped out in February this year. 

“We don’t want to do the final finish. We don’t want to put the white tent material yet, as well as the final surfaces and the paints, or place the sensitive equipment into the pavilion now. Instead, we want to install it next year, only a few months before the opening, so that we can provide a fresh pavilion for the visitors.”

Keinälä also touched upon how the main contractor of the pavilion, Swiss contracting giant Expomobilia, has been safeguarding the health and safety of the works on-site.

“When the pandemic hit, and its effects were felt at the Expo site, Expomobilia was quick to react and put in place procedures and protocols that fulfilled the requirements of the World Expo and the UAE,” Keinälä told Construction Week.

The Expo Reaction series has a new episode going live on Tuesdays at 4:30 PM. To watch more of these videos click the link.

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