You will have heard leading Bahraini opposition figures calling for the cancellation of the Grand Prix; this is transparent hypocrisy. The Bahraini opposition loves the Grand Prix, because it’s the time of year when the world’s media gives them the most attention.

Hence you’ll see them out parading their followers in front of the cameras and speaking to any journalist who will give them the time of day. Opposition leaders have admitted as much: That they appreciate the opportunity the Formula One provides for them to get their message across.

The opposition therefore seems to be torn in several different directions: Moderates have long-since grown fed up with riots, tyre-burning and political instability; while radical opposition groups continue to encourage militants to launch attacks against police.    

As a result, the protest movement at the outset of the Grand Prix seems confused and disjointed. This is why, within the space of 24 hours, you’ll see opposition figures calling both for a boycott of the Formula One while also taking advantage of the increased media attention created by the Formula One.  

A major problem for the opposition is that the Formula One is so important for Bahrainis. An event watched by around 515 million people all round the world is a great thing for putting our country on the map.

The estimated $300 million in revenue that the event brings in supports around 3,000 jobs across the Kingdom. For the past ten years the Formula one has acted as a safety net for Bahrain’s economy and has also helped reduce youth unemployment; hundreds of seasonal jobs are created during race season that mainly held by Bahraini youth.

This year’s race will also be the first ever night race; the race will take place after dark in celebration of the Formula 1’s tenth year in Bahrain. It is highly hypocritical for the protest movement to claim they are fighting for better economic prospects while seeking to block the single most lucrative event of the past ten years for Bahrain’s economy, which depends largely on tourism, the hospitality sector and international visitors.

The opposition’s silence means that we can at last enjoy the Grand Prix again as a normal event: A normal sporting event with no political significance and which can unite and entertain people as they enjoy a festival of motor sport, music performances and entertainment.

We welcome everybody to Bahrain for this happy occasion and also send our greetings to the hundreds of millions of people who will be watching on the TV from around the world.

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