Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The future of Malaysia hosting the Formula One (F1) Grand Prix beyond 2018 is a hot topic online,

Decision to host M’sian Grand Prix beyond 2018 is hot topic online

Weighing in: Malaysia has been hosting the annual event since 1999.

PETALING JAYA: The future of the Malaysian Formula One (F1) Grand Prix is a hot topic online, with a lively debate going on between those calling for the country to stop hosting the race and others who want the show to go on.

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who feels Malaysia should temporarily stop hosting F1 and focus instead on the Motorcycle Grand Prix (MotoGP), engaged in a lively exchange on Twitter with those both for and against the idea.

“I think we should see out our contractual obligation until 2018 then stop. Costs too much,” Khairy tweeted yesterday.

Malaysia has hosted the annual F1 at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) since 1999 and is contracted to continue until 2018.

SIC started hosting MotoGP, the world’s biggest motorcycling event, in 1999.

The agreement for the country to do so expires this year.

MotoGP was first staged in Malaysia at the Batu Tiga Circuit in Shah Alam in 1991 before shifting to the Pasir Gudang Circuit, Johor, in 1998.

The latest issue started on Monday when SIC chief Datuk Razlan Razali revealed that ticket sales for F1 in Malaysia had been falling since 2014.

He told a media briefing in Kuala Lumpur that an initial report for the last F1 race showed that television viewership in Malaysia was the lowest in history, adding that Singapore’s F1 had also reportedly registered a 20% decline in ticket sales.

“In contrast, MotoGP looks more promising in terms of attracting spectators and its potential spillover effects,” Razlan said, adding that a temporary withdrawal from F1 after 2018 could be beneficial for the country to take a break.

A Twitter user @fai_O5 responded by questioning why Malaysia was giving up.

“This is typical of us Malaysians eh?

“When the going gets tough, the tough don’t get going. We run away,” @fai_05 tweeted.

To this, Khairy pointed out that the issue was not about giving up when the going got tough.

“It’s when the cost escalates and makes more sense using taxpayers money for other things.”

Another user, @tspublication, said F1 put Malaysia on the sporting map.

“Removing it will not benefit Malaysia much. Keep it going.”

Khairy responded by saying that a temporary pullout could allow the Government to save a lot of money.

“It (F1) doesn’t differentiate us any longer. Other Asian venues. No drivers. Falling returns.”

Khairy said Malaysia’s promising racing car drivers Jazeman Jaafar, Nabil Jeffri and Akash Nandy have trouble getting sponsors.

“Cut the F1, use a fraction of that for them. Tiny fraction enough.”

Khairy’s views also received support from many Twitter users, including @DrPolo666.

“It’s not that we want to close the Sepang track.

“We want to stop hosting F1 and focus on MotoGP because we have many more (Malaysian) MotoGP riders compared to F1 drivers,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, the SIC, in a statement to Bernama, said no immediate decision will be made on whether Malaysia will continue to host the F1 race beyond 2018.

The company added that only the renewal of the MotoGP licence is expected to be finalised by end of this week.

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