Seven ‘new’ Wonders of the World named amid controversy

LISBON, July 8, 2007 (AFP) – Seven “new” wonders of the world including the Great Wall of China and the Coliseum in Rome, selected by nearly 100 million voters and upsetting cultural experts, were announced late Saturday at a celebrity-studded televised ceremony in the Portuguese capital.

The others are the Taj Mahal in India, the centuries-old pink ruins of Petra in Jordan, the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru, and the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza in Mexico.

British actor Ben Kingsley and US actress Hillary Swank hosted the event at Lisbon’s Stadium of Light, which was broadcast in more than 170 countries to an estimated 1.6 billion viewers.

A private Swiss foundation launched the contest in January, allowing Internet and telephone voters to choose between 21 sites short-listed from 77 selected by a jury.

It said it had gathered nearly 100 million votes by the end of polling at midnight Friday.

Losing out among the frontrunners on the short-listed sites were the Acropolis in Greece, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the statues on Easter Island, and Britain’s Stonehenge.

The privately-sponsored campaign was the brainchild of Swiss filmmaker and museum curator Bernard Weber, following the destruction of A