Organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix – the F1 2011 curtain-raiser, scheduled to take place next month – have issued a statement to assure that safety 'is a priority at all times in the kingdom' in the wake of threats that the race will be disrupted by political protesters seeking a convenient global stage from which to air their grievances.
Yesterday, it emerged that activists demonstrating against the incumbent rulers in Bahrain have set their sights on the grand prix over the weekend of 11-13 March, in the knowledge that the full glare of the world's media will be on the event.
Rioting has broken out in the desert kingdom in the wake of similar recent revolts in fellow Arabic nations Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, the Yemen, Jordan and Iran, and the deaths of two protesters following clashes with police earlier this week has only served to inflame an already increasingly volatile situation.
F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone has conceded that with the grand prix now less than four weeks away and a prior four-day group test planned at Sakhir for the beginning of March, 'the danger is obvious' [see separate story – click here
], but now the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) has sought to quell fears that attendees will be putting themselves at any risk.
“The safety of all Bahraini nationals, expats and overseas visitors is a priority at all times in the kingdom,” underlined BIC CEO Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa. “At the Bahrain International Circuit, our focus at the present time is on delivering another successful event in the form of the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix.
“We are monitoring the situation very closely indeed in association with the relevant authorities, and will respond appropriately to any further developments.”