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Updated: April 17, 2012 15:19 IST

Bahrain GP will take place as planned, says FIA

DPA
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Anti-government protesters carry national flags and images of jailed opposition political leaders during a protest march on Thursday (April 12, 2012) in Bilad al-Qadeem, Bahrain.
AP Anti-government protesters carry national flags and images of jailed opposition political leaders during a protest march on Thursday (April 12, 2012) in Bilad al-Qadeem, Bahrain.

The Bahrain Formula One Grand will take place as planned next week despite security concerns in connection with ongoing anti—government protests.

The ruling motorsport body FIA said in a statement on Friday that the race was safe to take place after it was briefed regularly by various sources over the situation in the Gulf Kingdom where the 2011 edition was cancelled by local organizers over the protests.

“Based on the current information the FIA has at this stage, it is satisfied that all the proper security measures are in place for the running of a Formula One World Championship event in Bahrain.

“Therefore, the FIA confirms that the 2012 F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain will go ahead as scheduled,” FIA said.

Not everyone in F1 is said to be happy with the decision to race even though the FIA wording allows for a last—minute cancellation if the situation in the country deteriorates.

But F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said after a meeting with the 12 teams in—between Friday’s practice sessions at the Chinese Grand Prix that the race was “200 per cent” on and that “all the teams are happy to be there,” although they plan to bring in security personnel.

Drivers have hardly commented on the sensitive issue, saying mostly that they have faith in FIA to make the right decision.

Opposition activists and human rights organizations have urged F1 to cancel the race again.

“The government is trying to launch a propaganda campaign against the democracy movement. But everyone who supports Formula One helps to cover up the blood of our people and allows the government to continue killing,” Bahraini poet Ali Al Jallawi told Friday’s edition of Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

More than 30 people were killed during the violent protests last year as the nation’s leadership quashed the uprising.

But clashes have erupted again recently which prompted the new debate on the staging of the race, with FIA saying that Todt went on a “fact—finding mission” to Bahrain in November to assess the situation and that FIA is in close contact with all stake—holders.

“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. 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,” the statement said.

FIA said it “ensures that any event forming part of an FIA World Championship is organised in compliance with the FIA Statutes and the relevant Sporting and Technical Regulations and that the safety of the public, officials, drivers and teams is secured at all times during an event.”

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