Indian Grand Prix is definitely on: Mallya

Last Updated: Monday, August 31, 2009 - 18:08

New Delhi: The Sports Ministry might have refused assistance but Force India owner Vijay Mallya says India will host its maiden Formula One Grand Prix race as scheduled in 2011.
"We are definitely going to host the event. The
organisers have acquired the land in Greater Noida and have
started building the track," Mallya told PTI from
Spa-Francorchamps, where Giancarlo Fisichella finished second
in the Belgian Grand Prix to win Force India`s first Formula
one points.

The 2011 Indian Grand Prix ran into rough weather after
the Sports Ministry denied JPSK Sports, promoter of the event
in India, approval to the remittance of USD 36.5 million to
Formula One Administration in UK.

Adamant Sports Ministry officials maintain Formula One
does not have the social relevance of an Olympic sport and
have refused to give their nod to the transaction, which comes
under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) because it`s
not desirable.

Asked about the Sports Ministry`s stance, Mallya said,
"Look, this is a substantial amount of money to be transacted
out of the country and the Ministry officials naturally have
some concerns. May be the promoters need to meet them again
and explain it in details."

Mallya, in fact, is baffled by the Sports Ministry`s
stand against the Indian Grand Prix and wonders what prompted
it to say that Formula One is not a sport as such.

"How can they say that Formula One is not sport?" he
asked.

"When hundreds of millions of people worldwide follow it
as a sport, what makes them believe otherwise?" a miffed
Mallya said.

"Formula One is the most watched sports in the world, of
course outside Olympic Games and World Cup soccer. So it`s
really unfair if someone says that Formula One is not a
sport," Mallya said.

The Sports Ministry is not impressed with the promoters`
logic that the Indian Grand Prix would boost tourism and real
estate in the country.

"If that`s the case, why don`t they go to the Tourism
ministry instead of knocking our door," a Ministry official
said.

"Strictly in this context, the Ministry did not find the
remittance desirable. They sought our recommendation for an
outflow of nearly Rs 200 crore which the Ministry felt was not
justified for a motor race," added Joint secretary in the
Sports Ministry I Srinivas.

Bureau Report



First Published: Monday, August 31, 2009 - 18:08

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