Organisers of Bahrain’s Grand Prix said on Thursday that sporadic protests against the race and violent unrest across the Gulf nation do not pose a threat to the premier international event in the kingdom.
Anti-government groups have stepped up protests against the race in attempts to embarrass authorities, but the demonstrations have been mostly isolated to areas that are hotbeds of opposition to the ruling royal family. Rights groups also are using the race to criticize Bahrain’s arrests and other security crackdowns.
Zayed Alzayani, the chairman of the Bahrain International Circuit, said security measures in place this week at the circuit were no different than in past races. Police vehicles dotted the road leading to the circuit and there were several checkpoints before the track.
Bahrain has faced more than two years of violence between the Sunni-led government and majority Shiites seeking a greater political voice. The latest clashes occurred mostly in Shiite districts of the country, which are often scenes of unrest. Graffiti on walls said: “No F1,” a reference to the Formula One event. “Don’t race on our blood.”
The race was postponed in 2011 but went ahead the next year with Sebastian Vettel winning it.