Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, who attended Rally Estonia on Saturday, said that the government supports future WRC events in Estonia.
The PM described the atmosphere as historic, professional, busy and cheerful. "I believe the spectators are enjoying it and I have also enjoyed this historic and unique moment Estonia has been given to organize a WRC rally. Estonia is the 33rd country to have that honor. The start of the rally and first stage yesterday (Friday – ed.), the Otepää special stage this morning and now the chance to virtually tour the service park. There is also the Elva special stage this evening. Those are the things I'm looking to see," Ratas told ERR in an interview on Saturday.
"I believe there are three things here: Estonia has the world's best rally fans, Urmo Aava and his team have worked for a decade to earn that trust and the fact that we have our own world champions. All of it comes together in this unique moment. It is a lot of work," Ratas said, adding that the event will greatly benefit the Estonian economy.
"A world championship event will contribute to Estonia's reputation. We're not talking about 100,000-200,000 people watching the rally as has been the case in previous years, it is being brought to tens of millions of people all over the world. Of course, it is recognition for Estonia, the best possible advertising. Of our nature and possibilities. On the other hand, it is crucial in terms of the economy in Southeastern Estonia and Tartu. Thirdly, rally is a sporting event and it is important for Estonia to have the capacity to organize world championship level events. I hope ours is the best possible organization in the world," Ratas said.
"Estonia's reputation is growing by leaps and bounds courtesy of rallying and Ott Tänak and his team and especially when those two things are combined. All of it in the conditions of the virus. Estonia is made big by the fact it is even possible to hold this event here. It marks trust," the PM said, adding that he is keeping as close an eye on people's conduct as he is on the rally. "I must say there are very few people not wearing masks. The organizers have done everything they can to ensure people sanitize their hands and this entire area is secured. People cannot really avoid playing by the rules. Still, there are 16-000-17,000 people here and I hope we can remain calm in sever or eight days' time when we should be getting back the first test results."
According to Ratas, the government is interested in supporting future WRC events in Estonia. "Whether we get this rally or not does not just depend on Estonia. The competition is fierce. But if we can put on the best rally in the world until this Sunday, and this despite the coronavirus, it will be a very strong argument in our favor," the PM said. "The other question is whether the public sector or the taxpayer as represented by the government supports the rally. And the answer here is a definite yes. We want to keep supporting Rally Estonia on the WRC level. If the question is whether a repeat of this rally could get stuck behind the government, the answer is - definitely not!"
Editor: Marcus Turovski