Bahrain GP cleared by world body

The Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead next week as planned, Formula One's world governing body said on Friday, despite clashes and fears it could be targeted by anti-government demonstrators.

The FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) said safety concerns had been addressed following year-long protests which caused the race to be called off last season.

"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," a statement on its website said.

Bernie Ecclestone
Bernie Ecclestone. Photo: AFP

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

The race in Bahrain, which is on April 22, has overshadowed the lead-up to Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai and many teams are believed to have grave concerns about the upcoming event in the desert state.

It was postponed last year after protests against the government erupted, and was later removed from the 2011 schedule.

Bahrain says it is now safe, but violence has continued to roil the kingdom, including a bomb blast Monday that wounded seven police officers and a revenge attack on Shiite villagers.

But the FIA, which has been under growing pressure to decide whether to hold the race, said it was confident enough to give the grand prix the green light.

"The FIA ensures that... the safety of the public, officials, drivers and teams is secured at all times during an event," its statement said.

"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."

It said FIA president Jean Todt led a fact-finding mission to the kingdom in November, meeting the interior minister, members of the royal family, European ambassadors and 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," FIA said.

"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."

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