Talat role in race is scrutinized

Formula One officials will investigate why Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat officiated at the Grand Prix this weekend, a politically volatile move that fanned criticism of Turkey as host of the event. When presenting Ferrari’s Felipe Massa of Brazil, the race winner, with the Grand Prix award on Sunday, Talat was introduced as the «president» of the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus, a breakaway state recognized only by Turkey. «Political neutrality is fundamental to the FIA’s role as the governing body of international motor sport. No compromise or violation of this neutrality is acceptable,» said the FIA, the world governing body of motor racing, yesterday. Cyprus reacted by saying that Turkish officials had tricked race officials and called the move a «piece of theater.» Press reports speculated that the Talat issue could jeopardize Turkey’s hosting rights in 2007. However, the FIA statement yesterday gave no indication that Turkey will face sanctions over the matter.

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