Malaysia think­ing twice about rac­ing fu­ture due to low pop­u­lar­ity

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

MALAYSIA may scrap the For­mula One Grand Prix race af­ter its con­tract ends in 2018 given the event’s fail­ure to spur eco­nomic ben­e­fits for the coun­try, sports of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day.

High costs com­bined with fall­ing ticket sales and TV view­er­ship have dented re­turns, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials, who are due to meet later this week to dis­cuss the fu­ture of the race.

“The lo­cals are not buy­ing the tick­ets to watch F1,” Ra­zlan Razali, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Sepang In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit (SIC), where the races are held, told AFP.

“If there is no eco­nomic value, why should we con­tinue? We bet­ter take a tem­po­rary break.”

Ra­zlan said the huge cir­cuit can ac­com­mo­date 120,000 fans but this year’s spec­ta­tor fig­ures for the week­end race were only around 45,000, com­pounded by poor race-day TV rat­ings.

Host­ing F1 was “very ex­pen­sive ... It runs into mil­lions of dol­lars,” he added.

In com­ments on Twit­ter ear­lier, Sports Min­is­ter Khairy Ja­malud­din said com­pe­ti­tion from other venues out­side of Malaysia was also tak­ing its toll and the num­ber of for­eign tourists at­tend­ing the race was dwin­dling.

“When we first hosted the F1 it was a big deal. First in Asia out­side Ja­pan. Now so many venues. No first mover ad­van­tage. Not a nov­elty.”

“F1 ticket sales de­clin­ing, TV view­er­ship down. For­eign vis­i­tors down b/c [be­cause] can choose Sin­ga­pore, China, Mid­dle East. Re­turns are not as big.”

“I think we should stop host­ing the F1. At least for a while. Cost too high, re­turns lim­ited.”

Malaysia’s Sepang In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit hosted its first Grand Prix in 1999, mak­ing it one of the old­est in the re­gion.

State en­ergy firm Petronas, which is the ti­tle spon­sor and backs the cham­pi­onship-lead­ing Mercedes team, has been badly hit fi­nan­cially due to volatile oil prices, which along with other com­modi­ties have also bat­tered Malaysia’s growth prospects. –

‘The lo­cals are not buy­ing the tick­ets to watch F1.’

Ra­zlan Razali race ex­ec­u­tive

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