Bahrain has denied visas to foreign journalists and photographers, including from AFP, to cover this Sunday’s controversial Grand Prix race.
An AFP photographer, accredited by the sport’s governing body, the FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile), was informed by Bahrain’s information affairs authority that there has been a “delay to your visa application, so it might not be processed.”
Associated Press said two of its Dubai-based journalists were prevented from covering the Grant Prix because they could not receive entry visas, despite being accredited by the FIA.
Meanwhile, cameramen already in Bahrain were required to keep fluorescent orange stickers on their cameras so that they would be easily recognisable to ensure they do not cover any off-track events, such as ongoing protests.
In February, Bahraini authorities rejected visa requests by AFP and other international organisations to cover the first anniversary of the month-long Shiite-led protest that was crushed in mid-March.
The authorities have yet to respond to AFP’s request to accredit a local photographer, after having banned AFP’s local correspondent from reporting last spring.
Bahrain’s main opposition group, Al-Wefaq, has called for a week of daily protests to coincide with the Grand Prix, using the sports event to focus media attention on their long-standing demands for greater equality and representation in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.
The event was cancelled last year in the wake of the uprising against the Sunni monarchy and the government crackdown that followed in which a government commission said 35 people were killed.