Concern as future of MotoGP in Algarve in jeopardy

Government funding has not yet been secured

After being threatened over safety concerns, the Portuguese MotoGP Grand Prix is once again at risk of not taking place in 2024.

The reason is that organisers have yet to secure the government funding needed for the massive sports event, held every year at the Algarve International Racetrack in Portimão since 2020, to go ahead.

There’s always a signature or a meeting that is missing,” Jorge Viegas, president of the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM), said in an interview with SportTV last week.

Lamenting the infamous bureaucracy that Portugal is known for, Viegas warned that time is running out.

“The government has always supported MotoGP in Portugal, but at the moment it is delaying the confirmation of its support for next year. These things must be programmed with time,” he said.

Jorge Viegas also believes that this issue could be resolved by signing longer-lasting agreements.

“I would like the Portuguese government to guarantee its support for at least three years. There are many racetrack with five- or 10-year contracts,” the FIM boss said, adding that the required investment to secure a MotoGP is worth it.

I believe that the MotoGP is a fantastic investment. What the Algarve region and the country gain with it is much more than what is paid to the developer,” Viegas said, warning that if Portugal does not make up its mind in time, other racetracks will “come knocking” for the opportunity.

Portimão businesses highlight “huge impact of MotoGP”

Businesses in Portimão have highlighted the “huge impact” that the yearly MotoGP race has on the local business fabric.

The importance of the MotoGP is huge and larger than business owners may even think it is for their business, because we notice a large difference in the number of people walking around,” José Pinto, president of the town’s business association ‘Associação Portimonense do Comércio’, told Rádio Renascença.

“Even if people do not buy something at my store, they will buy something at the store of my neighbour, who will have more spending power and may even be able to buy things from me more easily,” he added.

Pedro Lopes, administrator of the Pestana Group (which manages five hotels in the area), has also focused on the positive impact of the event.

“Having the image of Portugal and the Algarve on televisions and radios in practically every country in the world, on the internet and on the news, also has a very significant value,” he said, stressing that the race is also held during the region’s so-called low season.

“March is a low season month in the Algarve. What else is held here? There is golf, some smaller events, but no other event of this size and visibility. If it is not held (next year), it would be a shame for the destination,” Lopes lamented.

Paulo Pinheiro, the racetrack’s CEO, has estimated that the event has a €60 million direct economic impact and has played a huge role in helping the Algarve’s hotel sector celebrate its best March ever in 2023, with the most significant increases in bookings in Portimão and Lagos.

Government says “there is no pending decision regarding financial support”

In a statement sent to RR, the Ministry of Economy and the Sea has said that “there is no pending decision regarding any potential financial support” for the MotoGP race in 2024.

“For financial support for events, there is a specific program called ‘Portugal Events,’ managed by Turismo de Portugal, to which all interested promoters who meet the respective eligibility criteria can submit their applications, subject to technical evaluation and decision,” it adds.

By Michael Bruxo

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