"Along with my family, I feel completely safe. Indeed, safer [in Bahrain] than I have often felt in London," these are the words written by the former assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in a letter addressed to International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Jean Todt.
John Yates was sent to Bahrain to reform security forces. Along with John Timoney, a US police chief, John Yates was hired by the government of Bahrain after the fact-finding commission appointment by King Hamad released a report in which it set out recommendation for the regime to implement. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) documented 46 deaths, 559 allegations of torture, and more than 4,000 cases of employees dismissed for participating in protests during the month-long uprising in March 2011.
John Yates added he was aware of "very real concerns" but feared those involved in the sport were being given a "distorted picture":
In the letter that was seen by Reuters, John Yates said he did not argue in defence of the Bahraini government or endorse the crimes committed by the regime but added that events happening in the kingdom should not be exaggerated.
"The almost nightly skirmishes that take place in certain villages are a potential block on progress and are putting those involved in their policing and innocent members of the public in significant danger," Reuters quoted "However, in spite of how these events may be portrayed through the medium of Youtube and other outlets, their significance should not be overplayed."
Yate's declarations come as Washington issued a statement on Wednesday night in which it expressed growing concern over the situation in Bahrain. It criticised the violence against security forces and the excessive use of tear gas by police, which resulted in several deaths.
The White House also called on the Bahraini government "resolve" the case of jailed rights activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja who has been on hunger strike for 63 days.
Growing concern over Abdulhadi al-Khawaja's health condition increased pressure on Bernie Ecclestone, who said on Tuesday that F1 teams will have the final say on whether the event goes ahead. BBC sports also reported this morning that "a number of Formula 1 teams expect the Bahrain Grand Prix to be called off amid security concerns caused by civil unrest." The teams are expected to meet Bernie Ecclestone in China over the coming days.