The British government has been criticised for the way in which it handled concerns over the viability of the Bahrain Grand Prix, which took place amid continued social unrest in April 2012.
According to a report seen by the Press Association
, ministers showed a lack of consistency in their reaction to concerns over the F1 event and the subsequent Euro 2012 football championships in the Ukraine, where a boycott was sanctioned despite the issues being less high-profile. Calls for the government to support a boycott of the grand prix fell on deaf ears, despite concerns that the race – and F1 management's apparent support for the ruling family – could spark more a concerted uprising, and the anticipated heavy response from police already accused of 'the brutal suppression of anti-government protests', but ministers were united in their decision not to attend matches in the Ukraine following the imprisonment of the opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.
The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report claimed that there had been 'no consistency of logic' used across the F1 and football events, and insisted that Bahrain should have been included on the Foreign Offices 'countries of concern' list, rather than left off for 'political and strategic' reasons.
Prime minister David Cameron explained away the decision not to boycott Bahrain by claiming that the Gulf region was 'not Syria', which was suffering an even more brutal reaction to anti-government protests, including the shelling of residential areas.
The Bahrain Grand Prix passed off without the anticipated intervention from protestors, but examples of clashes between the two sides in opposition were witnessed first-hand by members of the media who chose to venture out into various towns around Sakhir. Ministers have since admitted that the reforms they pointed to as a positive sign for progress in Bahrain have yet to have any discernible effect.