Bolsonaro backs Rio to host 2021 Brazilian Grand Prix

FILE PHOTO: Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro attends a ceremony of the Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES) Line of Credit for Philanthropic Organizations at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil June 13, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro vowed on Monday to move the 2021 Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix to Rio de Janeiro after the contract for Sao Paulo’s Interlagos racetrack expires next year.

Bolsonaro said a yet-to-be-built private racetrack in Rio would have a capacity for 130,000 fans compared to 60,000 at the Sao Paulo venue.

“No one is trying to take Formula One away from Sao Paulo. The race will stay in Brazil, that’s what counts,” Bolsonaro said at a news conference also attended by Formula One chairman Chase Carey and Rio Governor Wilson Witzel.

Carey said that nothing had been decided and he would discuss it with both cities.

Carey will meet Sao Paulo governor Joao Doria, a possible presidential candidate in 2022 who is keen to keep the race in Brazil’s largest city, on Tuesday.

He indicated that he was looking for the best venue to provide a spectacle that draws the fans and can stimulate the local economy.

“We want it to be in a destination city that captures the world’s imagination,” he said.

The Brazilian Grand Prix has been held in Sao Paulo continuously since 1990 and Rio’s Jacarepagua circuit was demolished to make way for facilities for the 2016 Olympics.

Bolsonaro, a Rio resident, said the new circuit will be built in the Deodoro sector of western Rio and be a multi-purpose facility where music shows and other events can be held to make it profitable.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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