Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa said on Monday he wants Bahrain to emerge the victor of its controversial Formula One Grand Prix which is to go ahead despite opposition protests.
“The prize is more important than a sporting event and it must not be used for political ends,” he said.
“We must unify our efforts to make sure Bahrain is the big winner of this prize,” he said, quoted by official news agency BNA after having inspected the Sakhir circuit, south of Manama.
Opposition activists have called for protests to coincide with the Bahrain Grand Prix due to be held on Sunday.
Last Friday, both the sport’s governing body, the FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile), and commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone announced the race will take place as scheduled.
US-based watchdog Human Rights Watch condemned the decision, arguing it would be exploited by the ruling Sunni dynasty “to obscure the seriousness of the country’s human rights situation.”
The F1 race in Bahrain was cancelled last year in the wake of a Shiite-led uprising and deadly government crackdown that followed.