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Backlash over Cyprus Rally cancellation  

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The Automobile Association branded the Finance Ministry’s refusal to underwrite holding the Cyprus Rally over the next four years at WRC/ERC level as “irrational and criminal”, costing €120 mln in lost revenues for the economy.

At a press conference, the president of the Association, Antonis Michaelides, backed up the claim with a study by Deloitte highlighting the direct and indirect benefit for the Cypriot economy from organising Rally Cyprus from 2022-2025 of €120.4 mln against total expenses of €10.6 mln.

The rally was to be included in the World Rally Championship, the European Championship, and the Middle East Rally Championship.

Breaking down the revenues, according to Deloitte data, Michaelides said the direct benefit to the economy would be €30.5 mln and indirect €89.9 mln.

He said, over four years, it was predicted the race would attract 102.3 million viewers, promoting the island as a sporting event destination.

Cyprus would have been one of the 14 worldwide that participated in the World Rally Championship.

Michaelides argued that due to the ministry’s refusal to approve the budget, the 2022 rally normally held in September had been cancelled for the first time since 1974-1975, when it was scrapped following the Turkish invasion.

However, the offer from the FIA, the governing body of motorsport, still stood for 2023-2025 and enthusiasts hope the new government that emerges after the February 2023 elections will reconsider.

CAA’s president said the offer was a product of negotiations between the association and WRC Promoter GmbH which also led to a significant reduction in the deal’s cost, which in line with FIA policy, needed to be underwritten by the state.

Michaelides said following the deal with the WRC promoter, two meetings were held at the Finance Ministry.

The second, in April, was attended by Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides, who heard Deloitte officials present their report and the president of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry backing CAA’s request.