F1 security not guaranteed - top Bahrain cop

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John Yates, the former Met cop responsible for Bahrain F1 security.

John Yates, the former Met cop responsible for Bahrain F1 security.

Bahrain cannot guarantee the safety of Formula One teams and spectators at this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix amid escalating protests in the Gulf state, the former British police officer who is managing security at the track has said.

John Yates warned the police would retaliate with live rounds if necessary, he told the UK's The Guardian, although he doubts this will be necessary.

“People say can we guarantee security. Of course we can't guarantee security. I'd be a fool to sit here and say that,” the former assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police said.

“Is it possible there might be an incursion on the track? Of course there is. It's an open event. Can you stop some idiot running onto the track? There have been other incidents of track incursions,” he added.

“The police will have all the options you would expect. If the opposition started firing live ammunition, the police would respond with live," he said, adding: "But I don't think that's likely.”

Yates’s admission comes as tensions in the kingdom rise amid increasing demonstrations in the capital Manama and outlying villages.

Last year’s Grand Prix race had to be canceled following a bloody crackdown on protesters which left more than 30 dead, prompting condemnation from human rights groups.

More demonstrations have been called for in the week leading up the event, the Gulf state's biggest sporting spectacle.

Formula One’s governing body, FIA, confirmed last week that the race would be going ahead, despite calls from activists for it to be canceled.

Nearly half of ArabianBusiness.com readers (49 percent) said they were strongly opposed to this year’s race being allowed to go ahead, according to an online poll. Nearly one third (32 percent) said the race should not be called off.

Just six percent of those polled said they somewhat agreed with the FIA’s decision to allow the race to go ahead as the security of participants and spectators cannot be guaranteed while 13 percent said security would remain a major concern.

Zayed Alzayani, the chairman of the Bahrain International Circuit, has said it is safe to race despite some continued demonstrations. “You have some stuff going on in villages, but it’s nothing that can't be handled,” he said. “I have no doubt at all that Formula One is not a target, not the teams, not the media.”

The race is financially important for Bahrain, he added. “The country has gone through a tough year, we are still wounded in some aspects or another and we are on the way to regaining our health, so to speak. I think the race will be positive to the country.”

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Posted by: Patrick

If you are worried about attending F1 in Bahrain do not dare to go to the Olympics in London. Bahrain at the hight of the troubles is safer than any sporting event in London and at any other time is still safer than London.

Posted by: Faris Khan

So John Yates is now backtracking from his earlier comments "I feel safer in Bahrain than London". Utter rubbish, what he should have said is "I am getting lots of money from Bahrain so I will say anything they want me to say" .

Posted by: Calvin Pinto

How is he backtracking? He, being a cop, is stating any form of disobedience will be dealt strictly.

Faris, you dont seem to be a sports fans. If you watch football league games(for example amongst all other sports even cricket) all over the world you will find all sorts of riots and hooliganism from fans .

And you are commenting from the UK, where sports hooliganism is one of the highest in the world.

Posted by: Ahmed

i am so glad the race is going ahead for the sake of bahrain and its people. a sporting event should not be brought in to politics. the people should understand they are part of a global community, and this race reflects that. i hope everything remains safe for the race and it works out to be a huge success for bahrain and its people. excellent job by the FIA to continue with the race and a lot of respect for people supporting the race.

Posted by: procan

In Canada Wednesday,April 18, print media reported that Porsche has chose not to race in Bahrain with great regret.

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