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Bahrain circuit boss: Race not a big risk

From Frederik Pleitgen, CNN
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed April 18, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • BIC chairman Zayed Alzayani explains decision to push ahead with Sunday's race
  • He tells CNN that anti-government protests have nothing to do with Formula One
  • Alzayani is adamant security will be tight when the world's best drivers line up on Sunday
  • He says London Olympic organizers would not be put off by such threats

(CNN) -- Bahrain Grand Prix bosses have made a "calculated decision" to go ahead with the controversial race on Sunday, claiming civil rights protests have nothing to do with the event.

Fears of violence have plagued the race amid continuing civil unrest in the Gulf kingdom. On Monday thousands of pro-democracy protesters took to the streets of Al Dair, in the north east of the country, many carrying anti-F1 slogans.

"I don't think it's a big risk. I've said before that it's a calculated decision," Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed Alzayani told CNN.

"What's been happening for the last year is a continuous theme of protest -- they are all related to political agendas and have nothing to do with the race.

"I fail to see the link between F1 and their demands. I mean, we are a sports event, we are a social event. This is nothing to do with political reform in the country. Formula One happening this week or not will not resolve any outstanding issues. I don't think if Formula One doesn't happen they'll stop protesting."

I fail to see the link between F1 and their demands. I mean, we are a sports event, we are a social event. This is nothing to do with political reform in the country.
Zayed Alzayani, BIC chairman

After much speculation about the race, which was canceled twice last year due to the civil uprising in Bahrain, motorsport's governing body made a stand last Friday -- issuing a statement confirming the April 20-22 event will go ahead.

"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," the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) said following a meeting between F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone and the 12 competing teams in Shanghai.

Alzayani said the situation in Bahrain had calmed down since last year.

Now, 14 months on from the "Day of Rage" that resulted in the deaths of many protesters in Bahrain, race organizers are confident this will be a trouble-free event.

"Last year where we took the opposite decision to postpone the event because we believed back then that the situation was more inappropriate than it is today," Alzayani said.

"I don't think they (the protesters) are significant enough to disrupt the race and I don't think there will be any damage to the event."

When asked what the long-term effects would be for Formula One if violence did mar the event, Alzayani replied: "If we thought that way, nothing would ever happen in this world.

"Why would London think the same, we shouldn't try to go for the Olympics because something might happen to damage them.

"Why would any other city or venue think of hosting anything, whether sport, or culture."

He said there was a lot of support for the race, adding: "We were deprived of the event last year and it would be unfortunate not to have it this year as well."

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