John Blount, chair of the 2019 Hamburg Convention Committee, speaks on stage in front of people
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When the first Rotary Club was established in Chicago in 1905, none of the four founding members could probably have guessed what it would later become. Today there are approximately 1.2 million Rotarians, who meet in 34,000 clubs in some 200 countries to work actively on long-term solutions for the world’s knotty problems. Via this voluntary work the Rotarians build lifelong friendships, which transcend political and cultural borders and promote global understanding and respect. In Germany the 56,000 members in 1,100 clubs work to improve living conditions here and worldwide. Together they have recently helped refugees to integrate, supported adult literacy programs and helped municipal authorities to fight deadly diseases.

The name “Rotary” originally referred to the rotating meeting places in the early years, whereby Chicago has remained the center of the movement to this day and is also the champion venue, with seven Rotary International Conventions. The first convention in 1910 was attended by 60 friends. But the number of participants rose year for year and soon reached the thousands. Asian cities set the records in terms of attendance numbers: Seoul features twice in the top five, with more than 50,000 guests in 2016 and almost 39,000 in 1989.

The only convention to have taken place in Germany beforehand was 1987 in Munich. 32 years later Hamburg was chosen to host the 110th Rotary International Convention – the city where Germany’s first Rotary Club was founded in 1927. After deciding to apply to host the convention, it took 18 months before a decision was made. The “Bid Manual”, in which Rotary International lists the requirements of candidates, runs to over one hundred pages. Hamburg was able to meet every one of those requirements and presented itself as a complete package. Finally it was down to Hamburg or Hong Kong – and Hamburg won the day.