Strong opposition from human rights groups contributed to the high-profile race cancellation [REUTERS]

Organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix have cancelled the Formula One race amid widespread accusations of human rights abuses in the government crackdown on opposition protesters.

The circuit chairman, Zayed Alzayani, released a statement late on Thursday which said that "Whilst Bahrain would have been delighted to see the Grand Prix progress on October 30th ... it has been made clear that this fixture cannot progress and we fully respect that decision.

"We want our role in Formula One to continue to be as positive and constructive as it has always been, therefore, in the best interest of the sport, we will not pursue the rescheduling of a race this season," he added.


The race at the Sakhir circuit had originally been scheduled as the March season-opener but was postponed after violent civil unrest and a crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Bahrain Grand Prix representatives didn't mention the violence, rather they focused on logistical problems that a postponement could cause.

After giving Bahrain months to decide whether it was in a position to hold the race, the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) announced last Friday that it would be rescheduled for October 30.

Earlier this week, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone had signalled a possible u-turn after last week's decision to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix to the Formula One calendar.

Ecclestone raised the issue in an interview with British newspaper the Times on Tuesday, questioning "whether it is safe and good to have a race.''

The inaugural Indian Grand Prix that had been scheduled for that date was moved to December 11, but will now revert to the original slot.


Last week's postponement triggered outrage among human rights campaigners, who had organised more than 455,000 people to sign an online petition calling on sponsors to boycott the Bahrain race.

While unrest continues in the country, the cancellation by the Bahrain circuit, the first in the Middle East to host a grand prix, has effectively ended the dispute.

"Bahrain has always sought to play a positive role in the continued development of Formula One," Alzayani said.

"We look forward to welcoming teams, their drivers and supporters back to Bahrain next year and would like to extend our deepest gratitude to our supporters, including staff, volunteers, sponsors, private businesses and the general public, for whom I know this year's decision will be a disappointment."

Bahrain has already been scheduled as next year's season-opener on March 11.

The decision meant the season will now have 19 races, rather than a record 20, and will end in Brazil on November 27.

Source: Agencies