FIA vice president defends Bahrain race decision

Carlos Gracia denies that governing body ignored protests of human rights campaigners
FIA vice president defends Bahrain race decision
Action from the 2010 Bahrain F1 race. (Getty Images)
By Reuters
Tue 07 Jun 2011 10:14 PM

International Automobile Federation (FIA) vice president Carlos Gracia has defended his decision to declare Bahrain a safe destination for motor racing following criticism from Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

Ecclestone has called for a fresh vote on last week's controversial decision to hold the Bahrain Grand Prix in October after it was postponed from March due to civil unrest in the Gulf kingdom.

The Grand Prix would take place only "if the security measures within and outside the circuit were adequate", Gracia, sent to Bahrain by the FIA on a fact-finding mission that lasted one-and-a-half days, was quoted as saying in Spanish media on Tuesday.

He denied that the FIA was ignoring the protests of human rights campaigners outraged by the rescheduling of the race after anti-government protests prompted a violent crackdown.

"I have spoken to human rights groups and they told me they (human rights) have not been violated," Gracia said.

"These are freely expressed opinions," he added. "I think the opinions of those on site are worth more than those who have no knowledge of the situation.

"When these protests take place, the opposition is using a large event to make themselves known and paint a picture of a situation that is not the real one.

"If there are controlled, non-violent protests it does not seem a terrible thing to us."

Ecclestone had cast doubt on the conclusions of Gracia's mission to Bahrain.

"We listened to that report from the FIA and that was saying there were no problems at all in Bahrain," said the Briton. "But that is not what I am hearing and I think we can see that we need to be careful."

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