India's sports ministry has rejected the idea of extending sports-linked customs duty exemptions that would have made it cheaper to import equipment being used for the construction of a Formula One race track.
India wishes to join the F1 grand prix circuit in 2011 on a course being built on the outskirts of New Delhi.
But the Times of India reported Tuesday that the Sports Ministry has refused to endorse the F1 race as a sports event, saying it would not have an impact on Indian sports "in terms of either participation, broad-basing or promotion of excellence."
"It would have no impact on the development of sports in the country," The Times quoted an unnamed Sports Ministry official as saying. "F1 is not purely sports. It is entertainment and this venture is a commercial initiative."
The Sports Ministry's refusal to endorse the duty exemption application from the construction firm building the race track will not affect its bid to bring F1 to India, but might raise the cost.
Samir Gaur, managing director of JPSK Sports, the company seeking to put India on the F1 map, said it would go ahead and complete construction of the race track.
"We're 200 percent committed to the F1 race in India," Gaur told the newspaper.
Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya is a majority shareholder in the Force India F1 team.