Rev up race efforts

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Rev up race efforts

The Formula One World Championship sanctioned by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) ranks as one of the biggest sporting events in the world along with the Olympics and the World Cup.

Roughly four million spectators gather each year to watch 19 competitions held around the world, while another 600 million people watch the races on television. It’s a huge series of events that requires a massive budget of 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion) for operating costs alone.

Korea will host F1 championship races for the first time from Oct. 22 to 24 at a track built in Yeongam, South Jeolla. It’s a great honor for Korea, which will become the eighth member of a prestigious club of countries that have hosted the F1 championships, the World Cup and the Olympics.

However, we are somewhat worried about whether Korea can stage the races successfully, as construction of the track is reportedly still not yet completed with just three weeks left until the races start.

The track should have been inspected by FIA officials in August at the latest to ensure it can handle the event.

But bad weather and financial issues have delayed the inspection, which is now scheduled for Oct. 11.

Officials in Jeolla appear confident that they can handle the event. But they must put all their efforts into ensuring that the races go off without a hitch.

Additionally, the local officials spearheading the races must attempt to develop a profit model by linking them to other types of events.

Malaysia, for example, raked in $150 million during the F1 championship it hosted last April by attracting foreign tourists to special events such as fashion shows and music festivals in Kuala Lumpur.

Large department stores there also offered special discounts and sales.

Singapore managed to sell its entire allotment of 100,000 tickets for an F1 championship three months ahead of time by tying it to other festivals and events.

Korea is lagging behind in this area and has not done enough to promote the event or link it to tour packages.

Although the local government in Jeolla initially took the reins in hosting the event, the central government has jumped in, though belatedly. Organizers must now intensify their promotional efforts and develop tour packages around the event, possibly linking it with the Pusan International Film Festival or even the G-20 Summit.

At any rate, we hope the race will help bolster the nation’s auto and tourism industry.
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