Join Date: Aug 2008
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Bahrain grand prix cancelled
The organisers of the Formula One grand prix in Bahrain have announced that the season-opening race has been called off due to the civil unrest sweeping the country. The event, which was due to be held on 13 March, had been in doubt for more than a week after violent anti-government demonstrations in the country's capital, Manama.
The decision means the Australian grand prix in Melbourne on 27 March will play host to the first round of the 2011 season. The final testing session that had been scheduled for Bahrain from 3-6 March has also been cancelled.
"The Bahrain International Circuit today announced that the Kingdom of Bahrain would withdraw from hosting this year's F1 grand prix race so that the country can focus on its process of national dialogue," said a statement.
Several people have been killed and hundreds injured in a crackdown against protesters demanding more say in the running of the Gulf kingdom. The crown prince of Bahrain, Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa informed Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One commercial rights holder, of his decision by telephone today.
Prince Salman said: "At the present time the country's entire attention is focused on building a new national dialogue for Bahrain.
"Although Bernie Ecclestone had graciously made clear a decision on the race was entirely Bahrain's to make and was not yet required, we felt it was important for the country to focus on immediate issues of national interest and leave the hosting of Bahrain's Formula One race to a later date.
It is not yet known whether the race will be scrapped from the calendar entirely, or rescheduled. The Bahrain grand prix has been a fixture of the F1 season since 2004.