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Bangkok’s epic plan to host 2015 Grand Prix in floodlit streets could be scrapped

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Thai tourism minister says the likelihood of damaging the city’s historic landmarks, and long-term ticket to tourism profits, is too high to execute what would likely be the best Grand Prix debut in history.

— Samantha Shankman

Thailand’s plans for a Formula One grand prix in 2015 could be scrapped if the sport insists on it being held in Bangkok, the country’s tourism and sports minister was quoted as saying on Friday.

“We may have to cancel the proposed grand prix,” the Bangkok Post quoted Somsak Phurisisak as saying after protests by locals and environmentalists and legislation against racing in the historic area of the city.

He said the island resort of Phuket could be an alternative, along with the cities of Khon Kaen and Nakhon Ratchasima in northeast Thailand.

However, any plans for races there would depend on the approval of the sport’s commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone, who draws up the calendar.

The Thai authorities have been talking about hosting a floodlit night race around the streets of Bangkok with an agreement in principle for the country’s F1 debut reached with Ecclestone last year.

Critics have said the noise and vibrations of a race in Bangkok could damage the city’s historic landmarks and Buddhist temples.

Formula One already has grand prix in nearby Malaysia, on a circuit, and a night-time street race in Singapore.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London. Editing by Mark Meadows.

Copyright (2013) Thomson Reuters.

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