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China opens its doors to MotoGP

China opens its doors to MotoGP

China opens its doors to MotoGP

The first steps towards an impending MotoGP Grand Prix of China were taken today at the foot of the Great Wall. An agreement was reached between the Governor of the Yanqing province, Li Chang Shuan, and Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports, the company that manages the FIM MotoGP World Championship, to stage a Grand Prix at a new circuit to be built within touching distance of the Great Wall.

`This is an historic day for motorcycling and I would even go as far as to say for the world of sport,´ said Mr Ezpeleta after signing a basic deal which will see the Grand Prix take place at the Great Wall Circuit in Yanqing, some 40 kilometres from Peking. The agreement between Dorna Sports, China Panthere Corporation and the China Grand Prix Bureau, the latter organisation to be in charge of the organisation and promotion of the event, involves an immediate collaboration between the three parties and initially lasts until 2010.

$$$ The signing of the agreement took place in the historic surroundings of Badaling, just a few metres away from where work will shortly begin on the new circuit. The initial proposal is for a 24,000 square metre facility which can hold up to 500,000 spectators, making it the highest capacity sports venue in the world. Around a dozen major events are planned for the venue each year, including a live broadcast of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Peking Olympic Games in 2008.

Work is expected to be completed within eight months by a workforce of around 20,000 labourers, so that the FIM can homologate the circuit before the end of 2003 in time for the first Grand Prix of China in 2004. `We are enthusiastic about the possibility of hosting an international event of this magnitude,´ declared Ms. Alice Pei, chairperson of Panthere. `For our country it would be a marvellous rehearsal for the Olympic Games. We can also predict that the Grand Prix of China will become the highest attended sporting event in the world, since entrance for half a million spectators will be free and there will not be any vacant seats. At the same time we will have a magnificent promotional opportunity because the images of the Grand Prix, with the Great Wall in the background, will be seen across the world.´

Carmelo Ezpeleta added: `It is an honour that our World Championship, which is the oldest in motorsport, can also have one of the oldest countries in the world on its calendar for the first time.´ Meanwhile, Grand Prix Bureau Director Martin Wilding explained that: `negotiations have been brief because all parties were keen for this project to progress. I am convinced that MotoGP will have great appeal in China and that the Grand Prix at the Great Wall will be an unprecedented success. I am sure that the image of the motorcycles with the Great Wall in the background will be impressive.´

The agreement signed today also includes the transmission of MotoGP races via national public television channel Central China TV. The deal takes effect from the Czech Republic Grand Prix in August and will considerably boost the MotoGP global audience.

MotoGP, 2002

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