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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.