France drops bid to host 2025 World Expo

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe arrives to announce the French government's official decision to abandon the Grand Ouest Airport (AGO) project in Notre-Dame-des-Landes following the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, January 17, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - France has dropped its bid to host the 2025 World Expo in Paris, authorities said on Sunday, confirming a report in French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD).

JDD reported that French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe had written a letter to the organizing committee to say that the bid would be dropped because of budget reasons.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire confirmed the decision in an interview with BFM TV.

“I understand the disappointment but we have to be responsible,” he said.

In September 2017, France lodged a bid with the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), which is due to decide on the bids in November. Three other countries are candidates to host World Expo 2025: Japan (Osaka), Russia (Ekaterinburg) and Azerbaijan (Baku).

World Expos take place every five years, draw tens of millions of visitors and last up to six months, the BIE said on its website. The next one is in Dubai in 2020.

Philippe’s letter said that the Expofrance 2025 committee was forecasting 35 to 40 million visitors, while the Milan World Expo in 2015 had only 20 million visitors. He said the government could not jeopardize public finances by giving guarantees for the event.

Paris, which will host the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Olympics, had hoped to focus the 2025 World Expo in the Saclay suburb south of the city, which is a center for science and technology.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq and Julie Carriat; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle