By Daniel Shane
Sport's head honcho says global attention could iron out instability
The upcoming Formula One Grand Prix in Bahrain could help the troubled Gulf state resolve ongoing political unrest, according to the sport’s boss Bernie Ecclestone.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, F1 supremo Ecclestone said that the event, which takes place April 20-22, would draw global attention to the island, which has been rocked by Arab Spring-related demonstrations over the last 12 months.
"It... concentrates an awful lot of attention on Bahrain, whereas otherwise it might be slipped in the back and whatever's going on there might continue to go on," he said.
"Maybe this will highlight people's interest and, say, what is happening there and whatever it is, could it be sorted out."
Ecclestone said that he “personally believed” that the race would be good for Bahrain and that the teams involved in the sport were “committed”.
“The teams are all committed to be there, and will be there, and want to be there and like to be in Bahrain,” he insisted.
The 2011 event was canned due to political instability in the country and there has been speculation that this year’s race would also be cancelled.
Earlier this week, Ecclestone told the UK’s The Telegraph newspaper that the decision to go ahead with the Grand Prix was not about the money and that the Bahrainis would be paying the estimated US$40m hosting fee regardless.
A report published earlier this week estimated that the cost of unrest to Bahrain’s business community had notched up to US$800m.
The island’s government has taken several major steps to quell demonstrations from Bahrain’s Shi’ite majority, including setting up an independent police complaints commission and offering reparations for the families of those killed during the Arab Spring.