All measures will be taken to ensure the safety of Formula One teams and fans during the grand prix in Bahrain next month, the chief executive of the Bahrain International Circuit said Wednesday.
Bahrain has been in political turmoil for a year. The 2011 Bahrain GP was canceled due to a wave of anti—government protests and punishing government crackdowns. At least 50 people have been killed in the unrest.
Sheik Salman bin Isa Al—Khalifa told The Associated Press that Bahrain was now safe. He said the country was ready to stage the F1 race the Gulf island nation has been hosting since 2004.
“The country has moved on and we are on the path of reconciliation,” Sheik Salman said in a phone interview. A “global event with so much exposure” will benefit Bahrain economically and politically, he added.
“There will be so much good with Formula One back in Bahrain. I am confident that all measures will be taken to ensure the safety of the teams and fans.”
“To be honest, every year the standard of security is high, not just in the Formula One race, but for any sporting event like this,” Salman said. “Our country has always handled well events of this nature.”
Last week, F1 world champions Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher backed the decision to go ahead with the Bahrain GP despite opposition to the race and almost daily street confrontations between security forces and opposition supporters.
In February, an opposition group that has been the driving force of the yearlong uprising wrote to F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone demanding that the race be canceled.
The letter by the Coalition Youth of the 14 Feb Revolution said “organizing an F1 race in Bahrain at a time when children are being killed in the streets at the hands of the regime mercenaries will haunt the F1 reputation forever and will imprint it with the image of death and human rights violations.”
Formula One remains committed to staging next month’s Bahrain GP.
Ecclestone has repeatedly said the race will go ahead.
“There are always people threatening. I don’t believe the (organizers) would take a risk if they thought there was a risk. Let’s see,” he was quoted as saying in England’s Daily Telegraph this month.
Keywords: Bahrain GP