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It's on! Bahrain GP to go ahead

16 April 2012, 14:26

Shanghai, China - It's on! The Bahrain Formula 1 GP will go ahead despite continuing anti-government protests similar to those which forced the cancellation of the race last year.

The International Automobile Federation said it had received regular security briefings from senior diplomatic officials in the Gulf kingdom and was satisfied that it was safe for the race to proceed.

The announcement matched the views of F1's commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone who told Reuters ahead of this weekend's Chinese GP in Shanghai that the April 22 race was on unless local sporting authorities asked for it to be cancelled.


Team principals, some of them unhappy about competing in Bahrain against a backdrop of continuing violence, will meet Ecclestone at the Shanghai circuit on Friday (April 13). IAF president Jean Todt was due at the track on Saturday.

"Based on current information, the IAF is satisfied that all the proper security measures are in place for the Bahrain GP," the statement read. "We confirm that the 2012 F1 GP of Bahrain will go ahead as scheduled."

The race will be the fourth round of the 20-race season.

2011's event was delayed, then cancelled, after an uprising in February by mostly Shi'ite pro-democracy demonstrators demanding a greater say in government and better access to jobs and housing.

Some opposition activists have dubbed the big-money race "a tool of repression" and made repeated calls for it to be cancelled.

The sport's governing body had been expected to wait t0see how the situation unfolded after Friday prayers - a time when street protests are often triggered in Bahrain - before making a decision.


Another factor weighing on a tense situation has been the health of jailed rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, on a hunger strike for two months, who was moved to a military hospital this week with conflicting reports about his condition.

The IAF statement said the governing body had to make "rational decisions" based on information provided by the Bahrain authorities and Ecclestone while also assessing the ongoing situation.

Todt, who was strongly supported by Bahrain in his election campaign and visited the country last November on "a fact-finding mission" after the 2012 calendar was ratified, had made no secret of his desire for the race to go ahead.

Bahrain was the first country in the Middle East to host a GP and has considerable influence in F1, with a representative on the IAF's decision-making World Motor Sport Council.

The country's sovereign wealth fund, Mumtalakat, owns 42% of the McLaren Group, whose team is leading 2012 the F1 championship.


- Reuters

Tags f1

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