New track tipped to be MotoGP 'icon', but UN condemns project - The Race
MotoGP

New track tipped to be MotoGP ‘icon’, but UN condemns project

Apr 9 2021
By Simon Patterson

MotoGP promoter Dorna has visited the site of Indonesia’s under-construction circuit on the island of Lombok this week, but it’s visit coincided with a United Nations report condemning the project and calling for Dorna to break ties.

Dorna managing director Carlos Ezpeleta led the delegation to the Mandalika project along with FIM safety officers Loris Capirossi and Franco Uncini to inspect the circuit after asphalt was laid on the track last month.

The street circuit arranged around a purpose-built tourist resort on the tropical island is part of a construction plan that also includes hotels, casinos, new roads and a significant expansion of the island’s airport.

Speaking after the visit, Ezpeleta says he’s impressed with the progress – and that plans are still progressing to hold a MotoGP race at the new venue in early 2022.

“The visit to Lombok was very successful and we can confirm that the Mandalika International Street Circuit will be one of the most important venues of the calendar in the future,” said Ezpeleta.

“We also know that the fans from Indonesia will attend massively and the GPs will become one of the most iconic ones of the whole season. Indonesia is a key market, not only for Dorna but for all the stakeholders of the championship.”

Racing on the circuit could happen this year, with plans for the Dorna-owned World Superbike series to visit on November 14, depending on both the progress of construction and the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2.684-mile circuit itself is now completed, but the pit complex, paddock, and hotels are yet to be finished.

While the visit was underway, a report released by the United Nations Human Rights Council criticised local organisers for their construction methods, after repeated reports about locals being forcibly evicted from their land to make way for the project.

The news first came to media attention earlier this year when a significant number of local police and militia were deployed to Lombok to assist in clearing residents from their properties – and that has led to the human rights organisation releasing a damning report into the construction.

“Farmers and fisher folks have been expelled from their land and have endured the destruction of their houses, fields, water sources, cultural and religious sites, as the Government of Indonesia and the Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation groomed Mandalika to become a ‘New Bali’,” said Olivier De Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

“The time has passed for racing circuits and massive transnational tourism infrastructure projects that benefit a handful of economic actors rather than the population as a whole,” De Schutter later added.

“Post-COVID economies should focus on empowering local communities, enhancing their livelihoods and participation in decision-making.

“We urge the Indonesian Government to ensure that the ITDC respects human rights and the rule of law, as well as the AIIB and private businesses not to finance or engage in projects and activities that contribute to human rights violations and abuses.”

The group of experts responsible for the report added: “Credible sources have found that the local residents were subjected to threats and intimidations and forcibly evicted from their land without compensation.

“Despite these findings, the ITDC has not sought to pay compensation or settle the land disputes.

“In light of the dark history of human rights violations and land grabs in the region, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and businesses cannot look the other way and carry on business as usual.

“Their failure to prevent and address risks of human rights abuses is tantamount to being complicit in such abuses.”

Dorna declined to comment on the UN claims when asked by The Race.

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