F1 Racing Coming to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s Bolsonaro Says

(Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro signed an agreement with Rio de Janeiro’s mayor and governor that paves the way for the construction of a Formula 1 racetrack.

The motor sports track will be located on land ceded by the armed forces in Deodoro, where 2016 Olympic competitions including rugby, basketball and mountain biking took place. The city will award the project to the winning bidder in 45 days, Mayor Marcelo Crivella told reporters. Construction would wrap up some seven months thereafter, Bolsonaro said.

“The hotel sector is certainly happy, there will be 7,000 direct and indirect jobs that will stay forever,” Bolsonaro told reporters after an event, without clarifying whether the FIA racing organization participated in the decision. The Brazilian race is usually held at Interlagos in Sao Paulo, and Bolsonaro said that the venue is no longer viable. “Rio de Janeiro wins and so does Brazil, without any public money.”

The president subsequently tweeted that the track would be named after Ayrton Senna, the celebrated Brazilian racing car driver who died in 1994. The FIA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

F1 Racing Coming to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s Bolsonaro Says

Rio is seen as a litmus test for Bolsonaro and local authorities to honor election pledges to bring down unemployment and violent crime. The city refurbished its Maracana stadium to stage World Cup soccer games in 2014 and developed areas to host the Olympics, but critics have questioned the legacy of both events. Rio state is still struggling to recover from a recession that was even deeper than that of the nation.

The estimated value of the concession to build and operate the course for 35 years is 697 million reais (US$177 million), according to information from Rio’s city hall. It estimates the track will have an economic impact of 626 million reais annually.

Bolsonaro also said Angra dos Reis, a coastal city south of Rio that’s been rattled by crime and has been the focus of recent police operations, could bring in billions of tourism revenue each year. It will become “a new Cancun here in Brazil,” he said, referring to the Mexican city.

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