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Bahrain official blasts Ecclestone "hypocrisy"

NEWS STORY
09/06/2011

A number of prominent people in Bahrain have criticised Bernie Ecclestone's u-turn on the country's 2011 Grand Prix, describing the latest decision as "shameful".

Although the announcement that Bahrain will not now host a race this year has yet to be made officially, Ecclestone effectively sounded the death knell yesterday when he said that "it's not on".

The F1 supremo, who appears to have been caught on the back foot by the media and public backlash, was praising the reinstatement of the event at the weekend. However, as the opposition grew, and it appeared the FIA had been hoodwinked into giving the country a favourable report, he had an uncharacteristic change of heart.

The opt out was provided by his old mate, and former FIA president, Max Mosley, who on Monday revealed that the calendar could not be changed without the written agreement of all twelve teams. As this hadn't been sought, and wouldn't be given, certainly by all twelve, Ecclestone and the sport had its 'get out of jail free' card.

While this may have gone down well in the paddock, the news has not been well received in Bahrain, which, in recent days, has remained remarkably quiet as the subject raged in the media.

"We were really optimistic after the event had been re-scheduled to take place in October," Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry board member and tourism committee head Nabeel Kanoo told the Gulf Daily News. "Now that it might not be happening, it's a real blow. It is a shameful decision and smacks of hypocrisy. There was no reason to consider cancelling it.

"Mr Ecclestone, of course, has the final say but in spite of him, we will move on," he added. "Whatever happens, we will not be discouraged with this and reiterate that we are solidly behind our leadership and support its call for a national dialogue."

Leading businessman Mohammed Dadabhai described the u-turn as a shock but hopes F1 will return in 2012. "We are a peace-loving country, solidly behind our leadership and we are pained at this decision," he said. "We would have wanted it back to spur the hotels and tourism sectors, which had been badly hit by the disturbances in the last few months. "We are now ready to move forward and, with the guidance of the leadership, will leave far behind the recent unfortunate events."

His comments were echoed by Sofyan Almoayed, the Gulf Association of Tour and Travel Agents chairman. "It is a great opportunity to prove to the world that Bahrain is able to hold the prestigious race after the unfortunate events of the last few months," he said.

However, he is confident that the situation in rapidly improving and though F1 might not return this year Bahrain will be ready in 2012. "Investments are returning to Bahrain and so are the tourists. I see no reason to cancel it. It would be an unfortunate decision," he said. "Assuming we get the first race in next year's calendar, it's only a few more months' delay so we should prepare for that."

"One day the FIA gives the go-ahead and the next day Mr Ecclestone says the opposite," said Mohammed Mashood, director of the Al Noor International School. "Why are they doing this? We must get Mr Ecclestone to reconsider and give the race the go-ahead. We are ready for it and will remain ready to host this prestigious event."

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