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Bahrain Reinstated, But For How Long?

Controversial race given the green light

Posted Jun 09, 2011 by Chris White

FIA Boss Bernie Ecclestone

The postponed Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead this year after the FIA decided it was safe to race in the country.

The race should have taken place on 13th March this year, but it was postponed due to pro-democracy protests in the country, which saw more than 20 people killed. The race is now scheduled to take place on 30th October with the Indian Grand Prix being pushed back to December.

The FIA say that the unanimous decision “reflects the spirit of reconciliation in Bahrain.” A state of emergency was lifted in the country last week, but Human Rights group Amnesty International say that serious human right offences are still occurring.

So should the race go ahead? Quite simply, no, it shouldn’t. And why should it? Admittedly, it is not the fault of the Bahrain Grand Prix organisers that the race was postponed, it’s not like the track was unfit or anything like that so I do have sympathy for those involved with the race. The bigger issue is the fact that there are numbers of violent protests still taking place in the country, so it isn’t a safe place to go. The idea of staging a Formula One race in a country, which will attract huge numbers of people and reflect national pride for Bahrain, will only lead to a stage where more protests could take place.

Bernie Ecclestone, the President of the FIA, has said that the decision is nothing to do with money. No Bernie, of course not, just like the World Cup going to Qatar in 2022. Why not simply scrap the race for this season, and look at it again over the winter with a view to staging it in the 2012 season? Let the protests go away completely, and the country recover fully, rather than papering over the cracks as they are at the moment. Bahrain is not a place that should hold a Formula One race in 2011.

Drivers are already coming out in the press with their scepticism about the race, including Mark Webber who said: “Even though a decision has been made, I'll be highly surprised if the race goes ahead this year. In my opinion, the sport should have taken a much firmer stance earlier this year rather than delaying its decision in the hope of being able to reschedule. It would have sent a very clear message about F1's position on something as fundamental as human rights and how it deals with moral issues."

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