• Bahrain unrest

Martial law in Bahrain all but ends grand prix hopes

ESPNF1 Staff
March 15, 2011 « Alonso believes McLaren will be competitive | »
Bahraini anti-government protesters stand close to makeshift roadblocks in Manama on Monday © Getty Images

The chances of the Bahrain Grand Prix being rescheduled for the end of the season appear all but over after the King appeared on state television and declared a three-month state of emergency "to protect the safety of the country and its citizens".

Last week the FIA told the race organisers they had until May 1 to make a decision as to whether the political situation in the kingdom was stable enough to allow the grand prix to take place in November. Given that Bahrain will still be under a state of emergency when that deadline passes, it is inconceivable such assurances could be given.

Over the weekend Saudi Arabian forces arrived in Bahrain, ostensibly at the request of the government, but pro-democracy demonstrators, who have been protesting in large numbers for the last month, denounced the intervention as an "occupation" that had pushed it close to a state of war. A Pentagon spokesman warned the move "could be provocative or inflame sectarian tensions".

While initially appearing to seek a peaceful solution to the crisis, the government now appears to be clamping down. Thousands of protesters remain camped at Manama's Pearl roundabout demanding political change in the kingdom and there were more violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces on Monday.

Most foreign governments continue to advise against travel to Bahrain.