Yates: “Of course we can’t guarantee security. I’d be a fool to sit here and say that.”
John Yates, former Scotland Yard chief, said, “Along with my family, I feel completely safe. Indeed, safer than I have often felt in London,” in the days leading up to the Formula One (F1) Grand Prix. Today, the day before the race is scheduled to kick off, he said, “Of course we can’t guarantee security. I’d be a fool to sit here and say that.” Participants have already pulled out of the race due to safety concerns. After Force India team members were forced to flee as petrol bombs were hurled over their vehicle on their way back from the race track, a member of the team said he preferred to leave the Gulf country. Additionally, the Porsche Supercup team MRS decided to skip the Bahrain circuit altogether, citing security concerns. Journalists have also had trouble leading up to the race. TV broadcasters Sky Deutschland, Fuji TV, MTV3 Finland, and O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper all decided to not cover the race from inside Manama due to concerns of how the races would be managed. For those journalists who did want to go into Bahrain, however, visas were denied. Two Associated Press journalists who are based out of Dubai were told their visas could not be processed on time for the race, and an AFP photographer (who is accredited by the sport’s governing body, FIA), was also told there was a delay in processing his application for entry.
Outside Bahrain, British Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn won support for a motion which, “believes that the Formula One race will be used by the Bahrain government as an endorsement of its policies of suppression of dissent.” The All Party Parliamentary Group for Democracy in Bahrain wrote to F1 sponsors and urged them to boycott this weekend’s race, saying, “We are most alarmed that you see no grounds to sever your brand and save its reputation from a totalitarian regime.” Human Rights Watch released a podcast drawing attention to the case of Dr. Nada Dhaif, who was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison, and charged with setting up a medical tent to treat protesters, among other things. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) called for “the immediate suspension of the use of [tear gas] because of its suspected severe health impact on the population.” PHR has continued investigation into the side effects of tear gas inhalation, and said in a statement, “Based on our findings, PHR is concerned about possible increased rates of miscarriage and birth defects in Bahrain.”