Belgian politicians screw things up once again

THE politicians of Belgium have a talent for trying to drive Grand Prix racing out of the country. The circuit has remained part of the F1 calendar because it is a such a good circuit and because Bernie Ecclestone had a financial interest in the track.

But the politicians seem intent on screwing everything up and are once again campaigning to ban tobacco advertising, despite the fact that the F1 circus is committed to stopping tobacco advertising in the autumn of 2006. The Belgians are pushing through legislation to ban tobacco advertising from July 31, 2003 and the government seems unwilling to compromise.

There have been attempts by members of the parliament to introduce amendments to the anti-tobacco bill but these have failed to achieve the modification desired, to allow tobacco advertising for world class events in Belgium between the autumn of 2003 and the end of 2006. A proposal was made to allow tobacco advertising for the next three years but this was rejected. It is worth noting that during the discussions two significant things happened: a Belgian senator pointed out that without the Grand Prix it is unlikely that the Spa-Francorchamps circuit will survive while another suggested that after Spa's F1 program has collapsed there might be a chance for Zolder to take over. This is about as likely to happen as there being a Grand Prix in Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea.

It may be that the stupidity of the Belgian politicians will deprive the World Championship of the Spa circuit and at the same time provide an opportunity for a new race in Asia or the Middle East.

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