Organisers planning to take ‘temporary break’ citing mounting losses
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is planning to take a “temporary break” from Formula One because of mounting losses, officials said yesterday, in ominous signs for one of Asia’s longest-running grands prix.
Officials are due to meet this week to discuss the future of the Malaysian Grand Prix after its current contract expires in 2018.
“The locals are not buying the tickets to watch Formula One,” Razlan Razali, chief executive of the Sepang International Circuit (SIC), told AFP. “If there is no economic value, why should we continue? We better take a temporary break.”
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Falling ticket sales and ebbing TV viewership have sapped enthusiasm for the race, which has been held at the Sepang circuit near Kuala Lumpur since 1999.
It has become overshadowed by the glittering night grand prix in neighbouring Singapore, while Malaysia is also in the grip of political and economic problems.
Formula One races are often run at a loss but they are attractive to many cities because of their prestige and exposure to global audiences.
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Razlan said Sepang, which can accommodate 120,000 fans, drew just 45,000 to last month’s grand prix, and added that race-day TV ratings were also poor. He noted that hosting Formula One is “very expensive.”
Official figures show Formula One has shed 200 million TV viewers globally since 2008, with common complaints including the predictability of races.
But the sport entered a new era last month when US firm Liberty Media announced a takeover, including a new chairman and plans for greater penetration in the United States.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2016.
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