Ongoing protests calling for the cancellation of the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix have made the FIA sit up and take notice. An FIA spokesperson has said the organisation is keeping a close eye on events in the troubled Kingdom.
“We are in daily touch with the highest authorities, the main European embassies and of course the local promoters at BIC [Bahrain International Circuit] as well as the international promoter,” the spokesperson said.
“The FIA is the guarantor of the safety at the race event and relies, as it does in every other country, on the local authorities to guarantee security.
“In this respect we have been repeatedly assured by the highest authorities in Bahrain that all security matters are under control.”
F1 teams are scheduled to arrive in Bahrain in less than two weeks and Damon Hill along with a UK Labour MP have suggested orgainsers should rethink their decision to race.
“We have the human rights president Alkhawaja in a serious situation [hunger strike], with two weeks to go. It is a very difficult call and my concern is that F1 is perceived to be indifferent, and that would be really damaging for F1,” said Hill yesterday in an interview with BBC Radio 4.
Meanwhile, Richard Burden, Labour MP, has used his own blog to air his concerns, saying the timing is not right. “In a context where genuine and sustainable reform is taking place, holding a Grand Prix could be a unifying event for the people of Bahrain as well as a positive showcase on the world stage. But things are not at that stage,” Burden said.
“Since February last year, 45 people have died on Bahrain’s streets. The latest victim was killed by live ammunition only last week. Hundreds of protesters gathered at the cemetery near his home outside the capital, Manama. Reports say riot police fired tear gas and stun grenades into the crowds, setting off running street clashes,” he added.