Bahrain and Formula 1 get ready

2012 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix is set to get underway from 20 to 22nd April 2012. Bahrain organized the first F1 race back in 2004, after which they have featured on the F1 calendar regularly. Except last year, when due to protests, FIA cancelled the Bahrain GP. The same protests are ongoing this year too. But this year, FIA officials are going ahead with the F1 race which is going to be staged in just 4 days.

Formula 1 is the most watched events after the Olympics and by bringing the event to Bahrain, the country will generate more foreign capital. Besides this it will also encourage more investments in Bahrain, bring in more business and stimulate tourism. The events will encourage young Bahrainis to show more interest in the game while getting fans more passionate about the sport.

Though proper safety measures are being taken for the race, there are a number of anti government protests and human rights activists fear bloodshed and violence in the days leading to the F1 events. Anti government protesters have called for the events to be cancelled saying that it lends legitimacy to a regime that continues to perpetrate human rights abuses. FIA has announced that the games will go ahead though security has been beefed up to tackle any such incidents of violence and bloodshed. Concerned about the safety of their drivers, FIA has ordered security companies and bullet proof vans for drivers and teams.

Talking about Bahrain GP, F1 supremo, Bernie Eccelstone said, “Everybody’s happy. We haven’t got any problems. It’s a problem being discussed by the media. They don’t have any idea what’s going on. That’s the problem. All the teams are happy to be there.”

Bahrain is currently going through an human rights crisis. The Government is accused of unlawful killings, unfair trials, ill-treatment of protestors, etc under orders from ruling monarchy. Scores of prisoners are held captive by the government because they called for political reforms.

At such a time, the government wants to host a world class event in the country in order to show the world that it is business as usual, which in fact is not the case. According to a report by Amnesty International, “In recent months, the Bahraini authorities have become more concerned with re-building their image and investing in public relations than with actually introducing real human rights and political reforms in their country. Indeed, for the authorities, much is at stake. They are keen to portray Bahrain as a stable and secure country in order to stave off international criticism. But as the country prepares to host the Grand Prix….daily anti-government protests continue to be violently suppressed by the riot police that uses tear gas recklessly and with fatal results. The human rights crisis in Bahrain is not over. State violence against those who oppose the Al Khalifa family.”