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Letters from Abu Dhabi: Chapter One: Circuses – F1

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Letters from Abu Dhabi: Chapter One: Circuses – F1 | The Thaiger
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Abu Dhabi: There are three kinds of sports; men against distance, men against men, and man-and-machine against man-and machine. Athletics is the first type, rugby and boxing are of the second. Motor Sports and horse racing are of the third. So which does history say is the most popular?

Greece, Rome and Byzantium had all these sporting types. In Rome the Stadium of Domitian, for athletics, held 20,000 spectators, much the same as today. The Colosseum was where Rome’s famed gladiator shows were held; its popularity is attested by a seating capacity of 80,000, big even by today’s standards. But the Circus Maximus, home of chariot racing, dwarfed them all, seating 250,000 spectators, and with a total capacity of 380,000, the biggest sporting venue ever built.

The Circus Maximus could accommodate 25 drivers abreast in their 4HP vehicles. Just imagine the corners. A chariot might be overturned or crushed by rivals as they turned. You would understand the chariot race. Young drivers in crash helmets and body armour with strength skill and courage were celebrities across the Empire, could become multi-millionaires as they moved from team to team, changing livery and allegiances. And they could be killed or maimed in crashes.

Races were preceded by a parade that featured the charioteers, music, costumed dancers, and images of the gods. A commentator told the crowds about the drivers and teams. The race started with the dropping of a flag and the synchronized opening of spring-loaded gates. Does this all sound familiar?

Chariot racing was the foundation event of the Olympic Games, and other Greek events. Team-owners were exceptionally wealthy men or women who enjoyed the limelight. The teams lined-up behind machine-driven starting gates, and as they raced the progress of the battle was indicated by mechanical markers. The most exciting parts of the chariot race were the dangerous and often deadly turns at the ends of the hippodrome. Deliberately running into an opponent to cause a crash was technically illegal, but it was hard for the stewards to prove, and accidents happened anyway.

In the Roman races, bets were large, and owners of multiple teams or syndicate members could abuse the system by having teams or drivers support each other. Spectators would cheat by throwing nail-studded lead “curses” at competitors, and often have fights during a race. And all around was music, noise, food and drinks, pickpockets and prostitutes.

As American Wrestling follows the ancient gladiators with staged fights between outlandishly costumed “goodies” and “baddies”, F1 is the inheritor of the elite chariot racing. It has the same basic structure, thrills, and dangers, in a race between about the same number of drivers in liveried teams. Perhaps history explains why the Tifosi are so ardent in their following of the sport, and the Chinese are so uninspired.

F1 has a regular TV viewership of 50 million; more than any other programme. The 35 biggest capacity stadia in the world are all for motor racing, with the exception of just three: a horse-racing stadium in Japan, a multi-purpose stadium in North Korea, and a football stadium in Calcutta. So it is obvious what thrills crowds today as two millennia ago.

The F1 Circus has blown into town, there is a buzz in the air, and I have already spotted Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. I am here at Abu Dhabi to taste smell and hear the excitement first hand and report back to you. I do this out of a sense of duty. With no consideration of my own welfare, I shall push myself to the limit.

I have visited the Fan Zone, offered some advice to McLaren on management of the pit wall, given guidance on changing wheels, tried out the simulators, and pondered strategy.

My seat is at the front of the South Grandstand, at the end of Sector 2 and the second DRS zone, right before turn 11. Look for a slim elegant knowledgeable chap in a nice hat; that would be me.

Tomorrow I inspect the pit lane.

Keep checking our online Phuket Sports pages, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter @PhuketGazette for the latest local, national and international sporting news and action.

— The Digby

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Phuket

Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment

The Thaiger

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Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment | The Thaiger

A man has been found hanged in Phuket Town apartment yesterday. Police are treating the cases as a suicide at the moment.

The man was found hanged from the apartment’s ceiling fan. His lifeless body was discovered around 11am after neighbours complained to the manager about the smell coming from the man’s room.

Police and the local Kusoldharm Foundation rescue workers attended the scene. Police later confirmed the incident happened in room on the 3rd floor of an apartment lock in Soi Phoonphol Soi 1, Talat Nuea in Phuket Town. Police said the man was 35-45 years of age and had a 29 year old girlfriend from Chumphon. He was paying 1,000 baht a month and had been renting the room for 2 months. Police estimate that the man had been dead for at least 3 days.

Police told media that the man had used, what appeared to be a dress, tied around his neck and then to the room’s roof fan. The apartment manager told police that he had been late on on his recent rent, speculating that the man may have been suffering financial hardship.

The man’s identity has not been released at this stage.

His body was taken to Vachira Hospital for an autopsy.

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand 24-hour hotline: 02 713 6791 (English), 02 713 6793 (Thai) or the Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai).

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Tourism

Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule

The Thaiger

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Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok Airways' ATR72, servicing the re-introduced routes

Some domestic routes are being added as local routes continue to expand. This time Bangkok Airways has announced it’s resuming its Samui-Phuket, Phuket-Hat Yai and Phuket-Pattaya/Rayong (U-Tapao) flights.

The first additions to the schedule will be the Phuket-Samui flights resuming this Sunday, October 25, and the Phuket-Pattaya flights start again next Tuesday, October 27. The Phuket-Samui flights will be operating on Sundays and Wednesdays only on the airlines’ ATR72 turbo prop regional planes, same as before.

A casual search on the Bangkok Airways website, for a return flight from Phuket to Samui on November 1, then back to Phuket on November 8 indicates the cheapest fare (promo) is 2,430 baht. Coming back, the cheapest fare we found, again labelled ‘promo’, was 2,630 baht. Bangkok Airways operate as a “full service” airline and don’t compete with the country’s discount airlines. But they operate these three routes exclusively – like it or leave it.

Bangkok Airways say that the flights will be operated “with the highest preventive measures and standards”. Around the country the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand have eased a few of the onboard restrictions, including the start of catering services which were originally banned under the initial flight rules when domestic routes started flying again at the start of July.

The daily direct services between Phuket and Hat Yai are also being operated on the ATR72 aircraft. The flight to Ha Yai leaves Phuket at 8.40am and arrives at Hat Yai at 9:.45am. The return flights leave Hat Yai back to Phuket at 10.25am each day. The route was very popular for the airline before the ‘disruption’ when airlines had their fleets grounded in April.

The service between Phuket and U-Tapao, linking the party city with the party island, will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, again with the ATR72. Phuket to U-Tapao will leave at 12.10pm and then from U-Tapao to Phuket at 4pm on the three days. U-Tapao is about a 50 minute drive from Pattaya and the airport also serves the greater Rayong area.

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Phuket

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket

Maya Taylor

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4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket. PHOTO: Booking.com

Phuket officials are setting aside around 4 billion baht to transform medical tourism in the southern province of Phuket, by developing a state-of-the-art treatment hub in the north of the island. The Bangkok Post reports that the Treasury department is planning to give the Public Health Ministry permission to use 141 rai of government land in the sub-district of Mai Khao, close to Phuket International Airport. It’s not the first time the proposal has come to light.

The concept is gathering support as Phuket battles to diversify its attraction beyond a tropical holiday island.

The aim is to develop Phuket as a world-class health and wellness destination, with facilities that will attract medical tourists from all over the world, as well as providing a high standard of treatment to the local population. It’s understood the facility will provide a full range of health services, including long-term care, and hospice and rehabilitation services.

The island already has a well-developed medical tourism market, but has been based around local hospitals and clinics linking up with foreign marketing companies in the past. “The International Medical and Public Health Service” has been conceived to create more long term financial security and diversification, and value-added tourism in Phuket, as the island has taken a heavy financial hit over the past 7 months.

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Phuket Andaman News

The plan was first suggested in 2017, by then governor, Noraphat Plodthong and confirmed by the director of Phuket’s Vachira Hospital, Dr. Chalermpong Sukontapol, in July. At that stage, the estimated budget was 3-4 billion baht. The director-general of the Treasury department, Yuthana Yimkarun, says the plot is being offered to the Health Ministry for free. The land is thought be worth around 1 billion baht.

Yuthana says the ministry will manage investment, with approximately 2 billion baht required for the first stage of the project. Construction of the facility is expected to be completed over 2 years.

Meanwhile, it’s understood that unused government land that is currently managed by various government agencies may be moved under the remit of central government, with a view to increasing its worth. According to the Bangkok Post report, just 4% of government land is directly managed by the Treasury. The other 96% is controlled by various government agencies. Yuthana says the plan is to increase the percentage of state-owned land under the Treasury’s management to 10% within 2 years.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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