MAY 21, 2002
The problem with a Beirut GP
YESTERDAY we ran a story about the plan to host a Grand Prix in Beirut. The locals are optimistic and have even gone as far as to advertise their race in Bernie Ecclestone's Formula 1 Magazine. Beirut would like to be seen as being a nation which is ready to welcome tourists and which has put the civil war between 1975 and 1990 behind it. The aim of the local government is to hold a Grand Prix on the streets of the city in order to rebuilt the image of Beirut in the 1950s when it was a playground for the rich and famous. It thinks of itself as the Monaco of the Middle East.
Unfortunately, the ongoing conflicts in the region continue to haunt the city. Yesterday a car bomb killed Jihad Jibril, a leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. It is the second car bomb in Beirut this year thee first having killed Elie Hobeika, a militia leader who had said before the attack that he was willing to give evidence against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon about the massacres which occurred in the Beirut refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla in 1982. The Palestinians blamed the Israelis for both killings. The Israelis denied it.
As long as such outrages continue to occur it is hard to see Formula 1 taking the Beirut GP very seriously.
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