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FIA says Bahrain GP is definitely on
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Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Apr 2012   |  1:12 am GMT  |  76 comments

The FIA has released a statement this morning, before the teams and Bernie Ecclestone have had their scheduled 12-30pm meeting, designed to stop speculation about the Bahrain Grand Prix taking place next week.

After a long silence over the subject of Bahrain, this statement puts the governing body shoulder to shoulder with the Bahraini authorities and states in the clearest terms that the race will go ahead next week. The timing is interesting for another reason; in that region Friday is a day when protests typically take place after prayers, so there will be close attention paid to the reaction on the ground in Bahrain today to this statement.

The message of the statement within F1 circles is clear: the FIA is in charge and there is no room for dissent from the teams. It will be interesting to see the reaction as the day unfolds.

The statement reads as follows:

“The FIA is the governing body of motor sport and therefore of Formula One. As such, it sets the season’s calendars following the proposal of the Commercial Rights Holder (CRH) in accordance with the local national authorities in all matters relating to safety.

Within that context, the FIA ensures that any event forming part of an FIA World Championship is organised in compliance with the FIA Statutes and the relevant Sporting and Technical Regulations, and that the safety of the public, officials, drivers and teams is secured at all times during an event.

The FIA must make rational decisions based on the information provided to us by the Bahraini authorities and by the Commercial Rights Holder. In addition we have endeavoured to assess the ongoing situation in Bahrain.

President Jean Todt led a fact-finding mission to the Kingdom in November 2011, meeting a large number of decision-makers and opinion formers, including elected Shia members of parliament, the president of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, ambassadors from the European Union countries, the Crown Prince, the Interior Minister and many members of the business community.

All expressed their wish for the Grand Prix to go ahead in 2012, and since then, the FIA has kept in close touch with all these stakeholders. Away from the public eye, the FIA has received regular security briefings from the most senior diplomatic officials based in the Kingdom as well as from other independent experts.

The 2012 calendar, as presented by the CRH, was ratified by the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) in September 2011. Since then no request from the F1 Commission or the CRH has been made to the WMSC to either postpone or cancel the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Based on the current information the FIA has at this stage, it is satisfied that all the proper security measures are in place for the running of a Formula One World Championship event in Bahrain.

Therefore, the FIA confirms that the 2012 Gulf Air F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain will go ahead as scheduled.”

The line about ensuring that “the safety of the public, officials, drivers and teams is secured at all times during an event” is interesting in that “at all times” clearly means travel to and from the circuit and overnight. Many F1 personnel will be in Bahrain from Monday morning for seven days. Also worth noting is that this line doesn’t mention the media.

There is expected to be a large turnout of media representatives at the race, although staff from Japanese and Finnish TV have already opted not to travel as have some individual journalists.

Reaction to the statement will follow as the day goes on and this post will be updated accordingly.

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1

I don’t like this. It’s not right.

2

Can’t say I’m surprised, but doesn’t mean I agree. When you have organisations like Human Rights Watch suggesting that F1 will be endorsing the regime’s actions by going, and yet it still decides to go, in my view you sacrifice any pretence of remaining apolitical. I see no real difference between this and continuing to race in South Africa during apartheid, long after other sports had pulled out. I can only hope this does not turn into something the FIA regrets seriously.

3

When I went to the Friday of the GP in 2007 they were searching people on the way in to the circuit even then. You can bet that nothing will happen at the circuit itself as the security will be immense.

4

The thing i cant understand is this whole “don’t go and race in this country because of whats happening”.

Very few people complained when F1 was going to South Africa, at the time of apartheid. If we applied the reasoning for not going to Bahrain, we would see a considerably reduced calendar.

Brazil is another example of a country, which, down through the years, has been less than democratic. One case in particular, stands out in braziian history, the Carandiru massacre. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carandiru_massacre

There are some “democratic” countries, who, if you applied the same rule for Bahrain, that shouldn’t be holding F1 races, I will leave it to you’s all to work out who they are, Google is at your fingertips.

5

A shameful display by all involved in this decision.

I truly hope the common Bahraini people will one day have thier nation’s money spent on having thier human rights issues resolved, as opposed to on holding an elite sport for the benefit of the few ruling elite.

And it’s hard to justify the sport to non-fans with decisions like this being made. I will not be watching this race.

6

This is motorsport not human right. If you wish to state your opinion about the injustices of F1 being in Bahrain then might I respectfully suggest you start by looking first in your own back yard. You might be shocked/saddened to see what you find……..

Here’s to a great battle on the track not off……that is why we all watch motorsport in the first place is it not.

7

For my part, my objection is that the Bahrain government is clearly using the race in an attempt to show the country as stable once again. It is a blatantly political act that is supposed to be against FIA rules.

After all, Turkey was heavily fined when it pulled a political stunt during the podium ceremony several years ago at their GP. The entire Bahrain GP this year is a political stunt.

8

exactly

9

F1 triumphs…

Faith in Bahrain is restored…for now

10

The FIA are purely focusing on safety and completely ignoring the ethical and political aspects, such as is it acceptable to implicitly support the regime by holding the grand prix? I’m not saying I know the answer to that, I just find it quite interesting that they’ve managed to sidestep that question completely. It’s a bit like if the English rugby team went off to tour South Africa in the 80s and said “Don’t worry, it’s fine because we think it should be safe”.

11

Why should it not run ?

Are we to give in to any little protest anybody fancies running ?

Most of these protests and revolutions have ended up resulting in Anarchy and a far worse state for the people living there and an opportunity for Islamic fundaMentalists.

The regime might not be perfect, but they are a million times better than the alternatives… wake up people.

12

The FIA are clearly unfamiliar with the concept of ‘duty of care’.

But of course, as Ecclestone says, “it’s all perfect”.

Good luck, James & stay safe.

14

I find the decision baffling. All of this talk about it being too expensive to cancel is nonsense considering the risks that are at stake. I love Formula One but at the end of the day it’s only one motor race, it’s not going to kill anyone if it’s not on. The goings on in Bahrain are actually a matter of life or death.

The other discourse about F1 being able to ‘bring happiness to the people’ or something along those lines is also flawed. Bahrain never gets much attendance anyway, plus I doubt the ordinary people in Bahrain are going to feel any better about the struggle for freedom and democracy by watching 24 multi-millionaires driving around a track for 2 hours before heading back home to one of their many mansions elsewhere in the world.

15

We should start a donation drive to “Hire a 24/7 security detail for James Allen during the Bahrain GP” on Kickstarter or something.

16

This just might end up making the actions of the teams and FIA during the 2005 US Grand Prix reasonable in comparison.

17

Doesn’t seem right. Things don’t seem hunky dory over there from news reports I’ve read. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja (52) is serving life imprisonment for anti-government protests. He is two months on hunger strike now and will probably soon die in jail. Amnesty International says there are 14 prominent opposition activists as prisoners of conscience and they are asking for the immediate relief.

Dissent is stamped on quickly there. Just like the FIA it seems.

Wrong decision.

18

I mean *release (not relief).

19

Indeed, thank you FIA. Enough of this storm in a teacup business and get cracking.

Who knows, with DRS it might even be a good race!

20

I think that the FIA statement has proved my suspicion beyond any doubt, that all input on which they have based their decision came from those who have never stepped off the red carpet. (For some in the whole of their lives) The same people who have no qualms about using deadly force on their own population. Unfortunately the moderate Crown Prince and even the King are being tarred by the same brush that characterises the hard line police, troops and militia.

In fact, mostly disguised to the the “West”, what is going on is basically a religious war

Sunni vs Shia with outside reinforcement from Saudi and the UAE. It so happens that the well off rulers are of one sect and the mass and vast majority of less well of population of the other. Thus this is not a bit of local disquiet that can be smoothed over.

21

I have a bad feeling about this….

22
Craig in Manila

So, now that it’s definitely on, will be interesting to see how many (if any) drivers/teams/media/whomever decide that, irrespective of the race going ahead, they will not be going either due to their personal security concerns or for reasons of their own personal morals/principles.

23

Many the line “… that the safety of the public, officials, drivers and teams is secured at all times during an event” doesn’t mention the media in particular but it does refer to the public.

I don’t see any reason why the media would have less consideration than the public, at large one would imagine.

25

I love how the FIA gets in there and takes charge like some kind of tough headmaster with statements like… ”There’s no room for dissent” — Classic!

Anyway finally we get a decision regarding Bahrain and I believe the FIA have made the right call for the sport just couldn’t afford to cancel this event again for that would have meant we would have a abandoned $200 million facility sitting idle in the desert for all eternity which would have been a darn shame!

And no, unlike some posters, I don’t believe this decision is all about money but instead loyalty for look there are so many countries around the world that want a race spot on the calendar nowadays (yes more countries than there’re weeks) so it would have been very easy for Bernie to drop Bahrain in favour of some other country which would have been charged even more.

For sure, as our JA on F1 says, today after Friday prayers will be a defining moment but unlike other Arab countries that wanted democracy during the Arab spring, Bahrain & Saudi Arabia are the two were it’s citizens weren’t after regime change (for they love their Monarchies just like we do over here in the UK) but rather just wanted a more fair system in which the ruling minority shared the spoils with the rest of the country —> That’s all.

Anyway glad this decision has been reached so we can now concentrate at taking care of business in China.

P.s.

I guess Mclaren must have breathed a major sigh of relief over this news for they were in danger of losing their business partners, no?

26

They didn’t say there’s no room for dissent, that is my interpretation of it

27

@ James Allen

They didn’t say there’s no room for dissent

————————————————-

Oh excuse me, thanks for the clarification sir.

28

I will be making a silent protest by not watching the event.

I know people use examples of various countries in which F1 goes to that have questionable political and human rights records. But this race has been used by the authorities there as an advertisment to show that everything is alright, when clearly it isn’t. Obviously a lot of Bahrani money is linked to the sport and there are members of the country high up in the FIA. This would be the only reason why such a decision was made.

Its one of those days why I wonder I follow such a sport, pay for tickets to see races and watch it on TV. I sinserley hope locals and people visiting the Grand Prix will be safe, and any protects respected.

29

I thought we’d have a USA ’05 scenario but with only the McLaren team racing.

30

Dont make sports political, Sports is sports it has nothing to do with politics, race or anything for that matter other than sports itself.

And secondly you dont know the ground reality true picture of Bahrain, you only know what the media tells you, i really dont know the real picture and i dont believe the media to the extent they blow out. Because my friends who are in bahrain says the life there is normal and safe.

Kindly be discrete in the information that you digest from the News. because they only show one side of the coin, well that is what makes there news exciting.

31

I suggest you don’t watch this weekend either in that case. China has an appalling record with human rights and so forth.

I firmly believe it’s not the job of a sports governing body to make judgements about a countries internal issues, unless there is a proven risk to the safety of the people attending the event. For them to do so sets a slightly worrying precedent in my opinion.

32

Looks like yourself Paul, the other Paul and Wu did not read in full what I said in the comment originally. So I’ll say it again, go to the Bahrain F1 website and tell me the race isn’t been used as a political tool to promote unity in the country.

If you went through every country the race goes to I am sure you could pick out one human rights incident. You will not get an argument from me there.

But not in recent time has a race itself been used a real political tool. This is where my issue is. The FIA fined Turkey $5 million for such a move when they wheeled out the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus onto the podium a few years back. But obviously its fine by the FIA for Bahrain to use the race to show everything is fine again. Sadly from what I read outside of the F1 media it is not.

33

I hope you will be boycotting the one this weekend too. Poor Tibetans… they just want a say in China. And what about the other billion who do as well?

UK had a bit of protesting, now arsonists are given heavier prison sentences than peadophiles and a woman with mental problems is also in prison. All the while our PM sells policy for donations to his party, takes money from the poor to give to the rich, yet insists we’re all in it together. If I was you I’d rather not watch the UK or Chinese GP than Bahraini.

34
tom in adelaide

I’ll be joining you. And I suspect we won’t be missing much.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with watching this race, I certainly wouldn’t judge anyone who did, but I have been really turned off by all the B.S that the FIA and Bernie have spun. That and the complete lack of accountability the team managers have taken (by deferring 100% of the decision to the FIA).

35

stop watching the sport where fair worse human rights abuses occur then. singapore china malayasia are all goo d examples.

i suggest you research all comments regarding bahrain instead of all the rhetoric expressed in twitter by both sides.

if they had cancelled because of politics then the above gps should be canceled to.

bythe way i live in bahrain

36

poor evaluation there Robert the world cup and olympics are directly about the nations F1 is not its about a sporting business model moving about making and creating money through extortionate fee’s and advertising directly at the trackside!!

Are DC and Humphrey going to be walking down the high Street’s in Bahrain as like in India etc??? i think not!!!

37

good point, like Jackie Stewart said where would it stop. cancel the world cup and Olympics?

when the violence in northern island happened, sporting event still went on.

Like i mentioned in a previous post, the media are the ones blowing this out of proportion.

38

I suppose the media get dropped into the “public” category? Just what has FIA done, other than communicate with one side of the “problem”. I see no evidence of the FIA taking a balanced view.

James – good luck – keep your head down after hours…

39

Well that’s that then…Let’s just hope it all goes off without a hitch. I guess in 10 days we will know. Maybe, just maybe the sport can help the country move forward in some way.

40

James,

Just wondering if you and your team are being provided with security to and from airport-hotel-track etc?

41

As much as I don’t think Bahrain should go ahead, I have no doubt that none of the teams, or F1 personnel are in any direct danger.

This is about drivers giving soundbites about how wonderful Bahrain is and how they love the place, while shaking hands with the ruling regime, etc. They can’t (especially McLaren) go there and disrespect the rulers. They have to perform for them.

That’s what they’re being paid well for. Expect lots of PR spin and photo-ops with morally good causes to be ramped up as soon as Bahrain is over as the drivers will need it to maintain their personal sponsorship deals.

42

Time will tell

43

you will not need security to travel around bahrain. roads are free and unfettered. it is a relief that the gp is back on as it will help the country as a whole. yes i have lived in bahrain for the past 15 years. the country needs the gp

44

Hi Martin,

Essentially it is a combination of all 3 and more. Simple put Bahrain is only 1.1 M people about the size of a small capital city. So from a status point it has been one way for a small island country to get recognition around the world in the past, present and future. 60% are Bahrainis. The government provides free education, almost free university, free medical heavily subsidised housing (180m2) $100 a month, cheap petrol, cheap electricity (free as certain people dont pay), pensions etc for low income Bahrainis. Almost a nanny state. They have an elected parliament in the lower house. Bahrain is not a Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco. with an upper house appointed by the King. The protest is that the Shia population want a greater say in running the country based on population and accountability within government for actions performed simply put. There are villages around Bahrain that are dominated by the Shia population and this is where the protests originate. Religious Imams in these villages have a great influence as well. Enough of the background

Status symbol yes for the country as a whole as it is the Bahrain Grand Prix sponsored by Gulf Air. The Grand Prix makes up around 2 to 3 percent of the GDP and it has a flow on effect with tourism and business. So it is needed to insure that business is possible in Bahrain. If the GP had been cancelled then quite a few companies headquarter in Bahrain would probably have left. So any Bahrainis employed would lose their jobs. Expats leave and the houses remain unrented. no money coming in. out of 34 houses on our compound 14 are empty. At the height of the unrest from March through to maybe September 4 to 5 star hotels had around 15 to 20% occupancy. Saudis would not come across the causeway to spend money. The business environment was distinctly unfriendly. Alot of small business went under on both sides of the religion.

so in a nutshell the GP is needed to stabilise the business environment so the country can go forward and sort out their domestic issues with reforms, rights abuses etc. Cancellation would have had a negative impact on business and probably a tougher impact on the protesters.

On the protest side it could be seen as a Mexican stand off with the police maintaining a presence outside the villages and young protesters taunting them. the villages usually have debris across the road to stop police coming in easily and in some cases have open maze that leads any body coming into the village as a trap. These standoffs have lead to people being hurt on both sides.

Who starts the confrontation is anybody’s guess but the violence is limited to villages and not popular ares such as shopping malls etc.

Good vibe certainly as it is a sign that there may be a pickup in business. which is good for everybody.

Overall it is a good thing for the country on the business front, human rights activists can state their case to world media, government reforms can be monitored, tourism gets a boost and as my 8 year old says the noisy cars are back.

drop us an email if you want a quick tour of the island from an expat aussie.

PS: If you take a taxi insure that the meter is on and dont haggle a price unless you want a guide for the whole day. From airport to manama around 4BD or 10 australian.

Enjoy Bahrain I think you will be pleasantly surprised I hope.

45

Hi Paul,

I’ve never been to the Middle East / Gulf region (I’ve flown over it from Australia a few times) and I make no claims to understanding the culture or the politics. I’m interested in your view that Bahrain needs the race. Why is that? Is it a status thing, or the attention brings a good vibe? Or is there a significant tourist and/or business benefit from it?

Thanks,

Martin

46

You’ll be behind a WALL of security for sure.

But you’ll be sure of an audience! This one will make headlines and every team and sponsor will be panicking that it will go very wrong indeed.

As has been said, if there is trouble in the country it could look very bad indeed for F1 but I doubt it will get near the teams or the track.

47

James, does it make any difference security-wise to travel as a BBC journalist, as opposed to being on your own business?

48

I’m amazed the BBC haven’t assured it’s employees safety and security considering you’re contractually obliged to attend.

It’s a shame it’s come to this.

F1 is supposed to be a fun, enjoyable experience…can’t see that being the case next weekend.

I guess we’ll all just have to narrow our blinkers a little.

49

Good luck, James!

50

James

Are you afraid or nervous about visiting Bahrain despite knowing the obvious facts?

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