x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

War crimes expert urges Bahrain race to go ahead

In a written letter, Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni tells Zayed Alzayani, the chairman of the Bahrain International Circuit, he feels it imperative that this season's race takes place.

The Bahrain Grand Prix returns to the Formula One calendar after a year's gap.
The Bahrain Grand Prix returns to the Formula One calendar after a year's gap.

Organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix, fresh from this week launching tickets for their Formula One race, received further encouragement on Tuesday that their race will go ahead as planned in April.

Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni, the United Nations' war crimes expert, led the critical and independent report published in November into last year's uprising in the Gulf kingdom. The Egyptian, in a written letter to Zayed Alzayani, the chairman of the Bahrain International Circuit, yesterday said he feels it imperative that this season's race takes place.

"The grand prix is a significant national event, which is of great interest to a substantial percentage of the population and all of its communities," Bassiouni wrote in the letter, which was also sent to F1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone as well as Jean Todt, the president of world motorsports governing body, the FIA. The letter was attained by autosport.com.

"It is therefore an event of deserved national pride, which you have used in this year's launching as a way of promoting national healing and reconciliation."

The marketing slogan for this year's race is "Unified: One nation in celebration".

Bassiouni added: "Aside from the economic, publicity, and public relations advantages that the grand prix brings to Bahrain, it is, on this one year anniversary of the February/March events of last year, an important point of departure for the people of Bahrain to forge ahead in their national efforts towards reconciliation.

"You and the respective organisations involved are to be commended on this initiative."

The race is scheduled to take place on April 22, the week after the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.