IOC president Jacques Rogge to attend Shanghai F1 Grand Prix
SHANGHAI: International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge is due to attend Sunday’s Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, a city sports official said Monday.
The GP, being held for the second year, is one of the highest profile sporting events being staged in China in the runnup to the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games. With Olympic preparations now well underway, China is eager to show it has the ability to make sure such events go off without a hitch. Rogge will greet the crowd via and wish racers success via the Shanghai circuit’s large screen televisions, Shanghai sports bureau deputy director Qiu Weichang said at a news conference.
The circuit will reciprocate with banners saying “Beijing welcomes you in 2008,” Qiu said. “This is really a historical moment and we want to help promote the Beijing games,” Qiu said. Rogge is also visiting Beijing and the eastern city of Nanjing this week. Shanghai International Circuit general manager Yu Zhifei said more than 100,000 people were expected to attend the three days of practice sessions and races starting Friday. While he refused to provide exact figures, turnout was expected to be lower than last year when organisers claimed to have sold all 150,000 tickets.
However, Rogge said more sponsors had been attracted than last year and all of the circuit’s deluxe VIP viewing boxes had sold out. Attendance at F1 races has been down this season compared to previous years, but Yu has said he expects the season-ending Shanghai event will have at least as many viewers as races elsewhere. ap