Election of new 7 wonders of the world: deadline approaching

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Of the original seven wonders of the ancient Greeks, the Great Pyramid of Giza is the only one remaining. The other six on the list are:
- the Hanging Gardens of Babylon,
- the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus,
- the Statue of Zeus at Olympia,
- the Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus,
- the Colossus of Rhodes, and
- the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

The New Open World Foundation will announce the results of the New Seven Wonders of the World election on July 7, 2007 (or 07.07.07). The ballot itself will close on midnight the day before. The Foundation proposes a revision of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World, of which only the Great Pyramid of Giza still exist.

Among the 21 candidates left over after the previous election round ended on January 1, 2006, the Acropolis and the Maya archeological site of Chichen Itza were doing well in earlier rankings. A spokeswoman for the Foundation said earlier this month that the result is wide open.

The election ceremony will be held in Lisbon, Portugal. Hollywood actress Hilary Swank, British actor Sir Ben Kingsley and Bollywood actress Bipasha Basu have been announced as hosts, astronaut Neil Armstrong will be present, and performers will include Jennifer Lopez and Chaka Khan.

Countries promote their monuments

The finalist countries of New Seven Wonders.

Some in India fear however that the Taj Mahal might not make the A-list. In the Bihar town of Muzaffarpur, sex workers are asking people to cast their vote for the monument in Agra. "We are doing it in our own small way to promote the 17th century monument of love," said prostitute Shahnaj Bano. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan ordered the construction of the mausoleum when his favourite wife died. People of all walks of life have joined the campaign in India: for example, hundreds of lawyers in Rajkot collectively casted their vote to support the Taj in the world wonder poll.

India's Tourism and Culture Minister, Ambika Soni, previously pitched in the campaign by personally voting for the Taj Mahal, but government officials confirmed that they did not officially support the initiative of the for-profit organisation. "The campaign is not backed by any government agency, though we feel it is good and in the interest of the tourism industry as a whole to promote the Taj Mahal," declared Sudhir Kumar, the Agra chief of the Indian government's tourism department, to the Indo-Asian News Service.

India is not the only country trying to get a monument elected. Brazil's soccer team for example, urged Brazilians to vote for Christ Redeemer, the statue in Rio de Janeiro.

Criticism on methods

The campaign started in September 1999 with a website by Swiss businessman Bernard Weber. One year later, one million votes had already been cast, and today the total number of internet, text message and telephone votes has surpassed 50 million -possibly the largest global poll ever.

Earlier on in the elections, promotional campaigns have been able to severely influence the top seven. An e-mail chain letter in Turkey caused the nation to set the voting record in February 2002. After the site had been noticed in China, the country took the lead in weeks, according to the Foundation website.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in a press release on July 20 reaffirmed that it has no link with the initiative, which it says would reflect "only the opinions of those with access to the internet". The Foundation 'Campaign Milestones page' however claims that "more than 25 percent of the world's population is now aware of the N7W campaign" after the media attention around the time the final round began on January 1, 2006. UNESCO also criticized the project's lack of scientific foundation, when compared to its own World Heritage Sites selection method.

The candidates

Originally the Pyramids of Giza had to compete against the others in the election, but after criticism in Egypt, they were removed from the election list and made an honorary candidate. The 20 other candidates are: