FIA: Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead

The FIA has responded to doubts over next week’s Bahrain Grand Prix, stating that the race will go ahead as planned.

Several groups, including Amnesty International, have expressed their worry that the sport will be used as a political tool. Currently, the Bahraini authorities are routinely clashing with pro-democracy protestors, and the safety of F1 personnel has been called into doubt.

However, the sport’s governing body has said that the event will be secure:

"Based on the current information the FIA has at this stage, it is satisfied that 
all the proper security measures are in place [...] therefore, the FIA confirms 
that the 2012 Gulf Air F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain will go ahead as scheduled."

Despite one team principal stating otherwise last week, most teams have claimed that they are happy to go to Bahrain. Ross Brawn has said that he believes that the situation is better than last year:

It is very difficult for us," said Brawn. "We have to take the advice of people 
who have all the information that is happening. We have reassurances from the 
FIA that they believe we can have a safe race there, so we follow that advice.
"We are not seeing what we saw last year, for sure. We are taking all the sensible 
measures you can to have the best race we can have. There are a lot of positives 
about going there, so we don't want to lose that."

Despite this, a report from Amnesty delivers a scathing attack on the Bahraini authorities:

"In recent months, the Bahraini authorities have become more concerned with 
rebuilding their image and investing in public relations than with actually 
introducing real human rights and political reforms in their country.

Indeed, for the authorities, much is at stake. They are keen to portray Bahrain 
as a stable and secure country in order to stave off international criticism. 
But as the country prepares to host the Formula 1 grand prix on 20-22 April, 
after the event was cancelled last year in response to the instability in the 
country, daily anti-government protests continue to be violently suppressed by 
the riot police that uses tear gas recklessly and with fatal results. Acts of 
violence by some protesters against the police have also considerably increased 
in the last three months.

Holding the grand prix in Bahrain in 2012 risks being interpreted by the 
government of Bahrain as symbolising a return to business as usual. The 
international community must not turn a blind eye to the ongoing human rights 
crisis in the country. The government must understand that its half-hearted 
measures are not sufficient - sustained progress on real human rights reform 
remains essential."

In recent days, protestors have directed their attention firmly at the Grand Prix. Pictures of Bernie Ecclestone have been torched, and several demonstrators have dressed up as Formula 1 drivers holding machine guns. Twitter hashtags such as “#BloodyF1” make their message clear – they do not want the sport to be seen as supporting the authorities.

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