Grand Prix in Delhi India
New Delhi, June 14. The Indian Olympic Association has reached an agreement with Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone to stage a Grand Prix in New Delhi by 2009. Though motorsports do not come under the purview of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), the apex sports body in the country is now dreaming big to bring Formula One racing to India. IOA president Suresh Kalmadi today released a letter he received from chief executive officer of Formula One group Bernie Ecclestone, informing him to “confirm” a letter of intent regarding the organisation of the Formula 1 Grand Prix of India, to be staged as a round of the FIA Formula One World Championship in 2009 in Delhi.
Kalmadi made it clear that the letter was not an allotment offer to the IOA, but just a proposal to explore the possibilities of holding the mega event in Delhi.
Ecclestone’s letter to Kalmadi, dated June 1, 2007, has noted that “the IOA will support the move to get the infrastructure ready for hosting the event.”
He said “it will be the IOA’s responsibility to get the support of the Central Government/Delhi Government and other government agencies to get a circuit constructed at a site which is acceptable to the Formula One Administration Limited (FOA).”
The letter further states that the “IOA will be the promoter of the event and it will be its responsibility to raise the necessary financing, whether through government or private funds (or combination thereof).”
Kalmadi said the IOA was confident of raising the needed funds, running into billions, to organise the F-1 event, though he lamented later that the Union Sports Ministry was not releasing funds for the training of sportspersons for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
IOA’s Formula One dream was apparently kindled by liquor baron Vijay Mallaya, who had recently announced that given a chance, he would organise an F-1 race on the grand vista of Delhi — the Rajpath.
But Kalmadi said if Delhi got to host the F-1 event, it would be held in a stadium, and three venues had already been identified for the purpose, though he declined to name these.
The IOA would have to shell out huge amounts to do the preparatory work as Ecclestone has made it clear in his letter that “you and I will identify and finalise the selection of land and Tilke Associates will visit and conduct the initial design phase (at the IOA’s cost) in consultation with me and subject to my approval” and that the IOA will promote the first event in 2009.
The formalities for proceeding with this project and a “suitable standby letter of credit” are to be concluded not later than September 30, 2009.
Kalmadi said if India hosted an F-1 event, it would not only boost tourism in the country, but also generate funds to promote Olympic sports.
Kalmadi said the IOA Executive Council, which met in the morning, approved the move to hold the F-1 event, besides several proposals concerning Olympic sports.
The IOA seems to be getting its fingers into too many pies before the Commonwealth Games as India is scheduled to host the Commonwealth Youth Games at Pune in 2008, the World Cup hockey in 2009, besides participating in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the second Afro-Asian Games.
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