A friend of Shanghaiist’s visited the Shanghai Expo today and here’s his account of what happened outside the Japan pavilion:
This afternoon, at approximately 1:00 PM, I arrived at the square next to the Japanese pavilion where, I saw, a large line had formed. I’d say, roughly estimated, there were 1000 people there, probably more, wrapped around the square. Despite the rain, nobody was ill-tempered, everything was well ordered. This was particularly surprising considering the fact that the Japanese pavilion had posted several signs clearly indicating that they weren’t going to open until 3:00 PM. Then again, with waits for many pavilions exceeding two hours, I think most of the folks in line probably figured they might as well camp it out in front of Japan.
I took a couple of pictures of the line-up and was walking away when I started to hear some yelling. When I turned around I saw a group of security had arrived to inform the people in line that they had to disperse immediately. There would be no waiting at the Japanese pavilion. This made no sense whatsoever: the people standing in line were completely sedate, patient, and orderly. But security was adamant and then, suddenly, so were the people in line. A shouting match ensued, followed by pushing. More security arrived, none of whom were inclined to back down on the need to disperse this previously quiet and orderly crowd.
Fortunately, somebody from the Japanese pavilion picked up on the fact that something really bad was about to happen, and made the decision to allow the people standing in line to enter the gates that run along the front of the pavilion. Thus, they would not only be out of the rain, but at least some of the volume of people crowding the square would be reduced. And that’s what happened – the line was shifted, using plastic stanchions, and the crowd was directed into the permanent entrance gates surrounding the pavilion. However, this was far from an orderly process, and several older people were nearly trampled under foot in the mad rush to get inside.
An absolutely mindless, borderline tragic incident set off by over-zealous security who clearly need better training and a good dose of common sense. If, after six days of soft opening, this is their idea of crowd control, then god help us when this thing opens on the first.