Manama, Bahrain: Bahrain Grand Prix officials began selling tickets on Sunday for April's Formula One race in the Gulf kingdom, the latest sign that the government is determined to hold the race despite ongoing protests.
Bahrain's season-opening race last year was canceled because of the unrest. This year's race is scheduled for April 22 and F1's governing body FIA has insisted the event will go ahead.
There have been lingering doubts, though, over the viability of holding the race, given the continued political unrest that has paralyzed parts of the capital Manama. At least 40 people have died in the Shiite-led demonstrations which have targeted the Sunni rulers.
Along with the ticket launch, officials announced this year's slogan: Unif1ed-One Nation in Celebration.
The head of an independent inquiry into Bahrain's unrest, meanwhile, expressed support for holding its Formula One race, saying it offers a chance for the divided country to come together "after all that happened in the last year."
Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni sent the letter on Sunday to Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed R Alzayani after tickets went on sale for the race. The letter was also sent to F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.
Bassiouni said the race was "a significant national event" which is of "great interest" to most people in the Gulf nation.