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F1 threat weakens as Far East crumbles

THE FIA's threat to pull Formula 1 out of Europe and relocate in other countries - notably in Asia - which the European Commission has dismissed as "bluffing" may not be as easy to achieve as Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone suggested to British Prime Minister Tony Blair as a meeting they had on October 16.

This is due not to any bluffing but rather because the Asian countries are in all kinds of economic trouble and simply cannot be seen to pay for Grand Prix racing.

Indonesia and Malaysia have been very badly hit by falling currency values. Despite the failure of several big firms in Malaysia major international events are still taking place. This week, for example, the country will host the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition - one of Asia's biggest aviation events.

South Korea's financial crisis is so bad that last week the government asked the International Monetary Fund for $20bn of loan to rescue the country after dramatic plunges on the Stock Market. Several of the countries biggest companies have already gone bankrupt and others - such as Samsung, Hyundai, LG and Daewoo are scaling back investment dramatically as a result of losses incurred.

While there are proposed new races popping up in Cuba, Morocco and in the Middle East, the threat of a large-scale move to the Far East is becoming increasingly far-fetched...

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