Bernie downplays Bahrain protests
F1 GEARS UP FOR CONTROVERSIAL BAHRAIN: Ahead of the 2013 race, Bahraini protesters hold up a placards and a banner during a demonstration, organised by people who were dismissed from their jobs. Image - AFP
Bernie Ecclestone has reassured teams that they will be safe at the 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix.
Earlier in April 2013, we reported explosions near the Formula 1 circuit linked directly to anti-government protests against the race, the F1 chief executive simply issued a blank denial.
Ecclestone said: "What's happened? They're demonstrating now? I didn't know that. There's nobody demonstrating."
The government confirmed the attack by a "terrorist group", while the group itself admitted it blew up a car "in opposition to holding the F1 race".
Bringing the situation into stark focus are the events in the US, where terrorists have exploded bombs near the finish-line of the iconic Boston Marathon, with devastating effects.
Ecclestone said: : "We don't want to see trouble. We don't want to see people arguing and fighting about things we don't understand, because we really don't understand.
"We don't want to see people repressed as a result of the race. Some people feel it's our fault there are problems. We are extremely sympathetic to them."
He suggested the protesters are taking advantage of the global coverage attracted by F1 and played down the threat they really pose.
"I don't think the people who are arguing about their position are bad people, and I don't think they're trying to hurt people to make their point," he said.
'HACKTIVIST' GROUP THREATS
A government spokeswoman told Bahrain news agency BNA that "appropriate security measures" are in place for the grand prix.
She said: "The security situation in Bahrain is very reassuring."
Meanwhile, the internet activist group Anonymous has threatened to disrupt the sport if it does not cancel the Bahrain grand prix.
Anonymous said: "Bernie Ecclestone and the royal family of Bahrain have learned nothing. We will remove you from the worldwide web. We call upon Bernie Ecclestone while there is still time - cancel your blood race now."