Italy bowed to a worldwide protest campaign today and withdrew Venice as a candidate to host the Expo 2000 World Fair.
The decision was announced to Parliament by Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti two days before a Paris-based organization meets to choose Venice, Toronto or Hanover, Germany, to host the fair.
A majority of Italian politicians and Venice lovers around the world have said the ancient canal city would collapse under the strain of hosting hundreds of thousands of extra tourists if the Expo 2000 were staged there.
Andreotti told the Senate that the government “has reached the conviction not to confirm to the International Exhibitions Office the candidacy of Venice as a site for Expo 2000.”
A motion asking the government to withdraw support for Venice was due to have been debated by both houses of Parliament on Wednesday.
Despite opposition at home and abroad, the Italian government, enthusiastically backed by big business, had until now maintained its bid for Venice as the star attraction of a regionwide Expo 2000.