SHANGHAI: The Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead next week as planned despite fears it could be targeted by violent anti-government demonstrations.
The sport’s governing body, the FIA, and commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone made separate announcements in Shanghai. The Bahrain race was postponed last year after protests against the government erupted, and then removed from the 2011 schedule, and was thought to be in jeopardy once again because of the more than year-long demonstrations.
With the FIA and Ecclestone under intense pressure to make a final ruling, the flamboyant 81-year-old had a 30-minute meeting with the teams before emerging to proclaim the race had never been in any doubt.
Asked if he was 100% sure Bahrain was on, he said, “Two hundred percent.”
The FIA said in a statement that it was ‘satisfied’ that sufficient security was in place at the Sakhir circuit to deter protesters who say they will target the event.
FIA President Jean Todt led a fact-finding mission to the kingdom in November, it added, meeting the interior minister, members of the royal family, European ambassadors and the business community.
“All expressed their wish for the grand prix to go ahead in 2012, and since then, the FIA has kept in close touch with all these stakeholders,” said the FIA. “Away from the public eye, the FIA has received regular security briefings from the most senior diplomatic officials based in the kingdom as well as from other independent experts.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2012.