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August 26, 2009

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Ministry gives thumbs down to F1 race in India

INDIA'S Sports Ministry has rejected the idea of extending sports-linked customs duty exemptions that would have made it cheaper to import equipment being used for the construction of a Formula One race track.

India is keen to join the F1 grand prix circuit in 2011 on a course being built on the outskirts of New Delhi.

But the Times of India reported yesterday that the Sports Ministry has refused to endorse the F1 race as a sports event, saying it would not have an impact on Indian sports "in terms of either participation, broad-basing or promotion of excellence."

"It would have no impact on the development of sports in the country," The Times quoted an unnamed Sports Ministry official as saying. "F1 is not purely sports. It is entertainment and this venture is a commercial initiative."

The Sports Ministry's refusal to endorse the duty exemption application from the construction firm building the race track will not affect its bid to bring F1 to India, but might raise the cost.

Samir Gaur, managing director of JPSK Sports, the company seeking to put India on the F1 map, said it would go ahead and complete construction of the race track.

"We're 200 percent committed to the F1 race in India."

Gaur said in April that JPSK Sport, floated by a diversified group controlled by his family with market capitalization of over US$2 billion, would get the track ready in time despite the global economic meltdown.

Cricket-mad India has warmed up to Formula One with support zooming since Narain Karthikeyan became the first Indian driver in the series in 2005.

While there is no Indian driver currently in Formula One, liquor and airline billionaire Vijay Mallya owns the Force India team.


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