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Bahrain unable to guarantee safety

NEWS STORY
27/03/2012

Bahrain authorities admits that they cannot guarantee the safety of those attending next month's Grand Prix.

Speaking just over three weeks before the event is due to take place, Sheikh Abdullah bin Isa Al Khalifa, the second son of the King of Bahrain, told the Press Association, when asked about the ongoing disturbances: "There are disturbances, and they are youths who need to be handled and led in a proper and right way. They need to know if they have concerns, problems, there are proper channels and procedures that can deal with them.

"They will not achieve their goals by disrupting the lives of family, friends, neighbours, or anybody who comes to the country," he continued. "But then we've had these youths doing what they are doing since 2004. There is a small element of society that has unfortunately been shown a way to demonstrate in this form.

"Yes, the events of February 14 last year inflamed matters, but we've never had an issue with Formula One, which has been visiting our country since 2004.

"People keep asking me about Bahrain, and I appreciate their apprehension, but anybody who has been there before and comes now will see there is no difference.

"It is why I'm hoping for the race to come as quickly as possible, just to let this (F1) community see and feel what is really going on in Bahrain. I know all eyes are on us, but for me I feel there is a buzz going on in the country to rally around Formula One. So my message to Formula One is 'be part of unifying my country'. We've had our share of trouble, people have made mistakes, but it is time to reconcile, to move on and come out stronger and more united.

"We have rallies every weekend that are authorised," he continued, referring to the ongoing protests, "so do what you have to do and stand by the side of the road and have your placards. That's no problem. I'm happy for them to protest, but be peaceful and orderly, without disrupting the lives of anybody around you. It's their right."

Asked about the chances of an incident which might effect the race directly or those attending, he said: "Of course, there are no guarantees in this world. You could be anywhere, even Silverstone. All I can guarantee you is you will be as safe as at any other grand prix.

"It will be life as normal. We've never had any violence towards foreigners simply because they are foreigners or in F1. There is no violence towards guests of the country, and I don't think there will be any disruption or danger to anybody coming into Bahrain."

In terms of the teams, drivers and the majority of the F1 circus, it is understood that the Bahrain authorities will underwrite all insurance costs such is the desire for the race to go ahead.

Earlier, an FIA spokesperson dismissed a claim on a Formula One website that the event is to be cancelled, the site curiously suggesting that the announcement would be made over the course of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend.

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