By CHRIS GRAEME [email protected]
Porto no longer has the right conditions to stage the finals of the Red Bull Air Race, says the company’s CEO Bernd Loidl.
Speaking in Lisbon on Monday, Bernd Loidl said that the sport had developed so quickly in terms of technology, scale and skill that the cities of Porto and Gaia posed “too many limitations” and the present course could not “adjust to the race’s fast developments”.
The comments come after Porto Mayor Rui Rio had severely criticised the decision to move next year’s Red Bull Air Race to Lisbon when he said it was “yet another negative” factor for a country that insists on staging “every event in the capital”.
But the Austrian organisers of the event say their consultant studies show that Lisbon and the River Tejo have the perfect topological features and space to host the event which will take place in the final weekend of September 2010.
Bernd Loidl also dismissed concerns that the race would pose a danger to incoming commercial airline traffic on its final approach to Lisbon airport.
“This will be very well planned out with the Civil Aviation Authority in terms of safety so we won’t be in conflict with airliners coming into Lisbon,” he said.
The Red Bull Air Race, which in the last few years has been staged over the Rio Douro in Porto, is to take place over the River Tejo between the Torre de Belém and the April 25 Bridge, Algés and Oeiras.
Porto vs Lisbon
Lisbon Mayor António Costa said that so far the contract signed with the organisers and the Câmara “only refers to 2010”.
He also dismissed suggestions of a “north versus south”, “Porto versus Lisbon” situation and added that the competition was between planes and not cities.
It was a view shared by Oeiras Mayor Isaltino Morais, who said that the long and wide expanse of the River Tejo had “all of the territorial conditions” and an “extraordinary and unique landscape”.
The agreement was signed on Tuesday last week by Turismo de Lisboa, representing also the municipal câmaras of Oeiras and Lisbon and Red Bull.
However Turismo de Portugal, Portugal’s tourist board, issued a statement on Thursday saying that it supported the event in itself but had “no knowledge of any negotiations that had led to the present decision to move its location” and added that it had “never been contacted at any phase of the negotiation process by any of the involved parties”, neither had it received “any financial request for future editions of the event.”
The event is expected to attract 50,000 visitors and up to 330 journalists, generate in excess of 40 million euros for Lisbon and fill 3,500 hotel rooms in the city. Lisbon Câmara is expected to stump up 500,000 euros while the organisers have 3.5 million euros to fund the event. The remainder will come from sponsors.
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