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Ecclestone cancels German appearance after Nazi gaffe

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Ecclestone cancels German appearance after Nazi gaffe
Photo: DPA
14:50 CEST+02:00
Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One boss embroiled in controversy over a verbal gaffe in which he praised Adolf Hitler, has cancelled a planned appearance at the famous Nürburgring auto racetrack this week.

The 78-year-old was scheduled to be at the opening of amusement park on Thursday at the Nürburgring ahead of the F1 grand prix at the notoriously difficult track on Sunday. That visit has now been cancelled without an official reason, though calls for Ecclestone's resignation have been ongoing since he told British newspaper The Times last Friday that Hitler was a leader who could “get things done.”

Ecclestone may still attend the racing event on Sunday though, despite pressure to cancel.

Before Ecclestone cancelled the amusement park appearance, the governor of neighbouring state of Baden-Württemberg Günther Oettinger announced he would no longer meet with the F1 chief after the comments were published.

Ecclestone, who owns the commercial rights to the motorsport league, tried to backtrack on his comments on Monday to German paper Bild, saying the whole thing was merely a misunderstanding. He also told newswire service AP on Tuesday that he has no plans to step down – though prominent Jewish organisations have called for his resignation.

This isn't the only controversy facing the track, which is nicknamed “The Green Hell,” ahead of the opening of the amusement park built for speed demons. On Tuesday, the Rhineland-Palatinate finance minister Ingolf Deubel from the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) resigned over financing for the project. Deubel's financing model with US investors couldn't deliver the results the state government was looking for in time. Deubel is also giving up his seat on the corporation created to build the expansion.

The entire cost of bring new life to the Ring is estimated at €250 million ($350 million). The 24-kilometre track was built in the 1920s around the medieval Nürburg Castle.

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