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Bahrain: Ecclestone to make decision next week

NEWS STORY
17/02/2011

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has said that a decision as to whether the Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead will be made next week.

As civil unrest sweeps the Middle East, F1 suddenly finds itself centre stage. Following uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, Bahrain is one of several countries where the people have had enough and are determined to make themselves heard.

Ignoring the actual politics, the fact is that as can be witnessed by many of the banners and placards that are being waved, these demonstrations are aimed at the wider global audience.

Rather than expressing their anger in Arabic the protestors hold aloft banners which proclaim their anger and frustration in English. Seeking the support of the wider democratic world, the protestors crave the publicity offered by 24-hour news coverage, the Internet and social networks.

Earlier this week, Nabeel Rajab, vice president of Bahrain Center for Human Rights, warned that the forthcoming season opener in Bahrain could be used by protestors in order to attract the attention of the watching world. "They'll be lots of journalists, a lot of people looking and (the government) will react in a stupid manner," he told Arabian Business. "And that will be bloody but will be more publicised."

Consequently, even if the protests ease off there is nothing to say that they won't return once the F1 circus hits town and the people take full advantage of the opportunity such a high profile international sporting event allows.

Mindful of the situation, Bernie Ecclestone admits that there is concern within the F1 paddock as to whether the event should go ahead. However, rather than rushing into things, he chooses to wait and listen to the advice of those in the know.

"It's not good, is it?" he told the Press Association. "We'll have to keep our eye on things and make a decision quickly. Next week we will make a decision on what we are going to do."

Other than the Grand Prix, the teams are due to attend a four-day pre-season test at the Sakhir circuit beginning on March 3.

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