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Teargas on democracy protesters? Bahrain Grand Prix sponsors say 'no problem'

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Brand building must go on.

Major corporations spend a lot of money worrying about their brands, and their research has told them that there's more money to be made than lost by carrying on with this weekend's event. Consumers either aren't aware of what's been going on in Bahrain, or don't care.

The Business and Human Rights Information Center says it contacted all of the sponsors of F1 teams, the organization, and the race itself. Only about half issued responses. The ones that did were generally bland and non-specific. Microsoft was fairly typical, writing. "We recognize the important responsibilities we have to respect human rights and work every day to meet our responsibilities. We invite dialogue with stakeholders and look forward to engaging in thoughtful discussions.”

Vodafone responded in a similar vein: "We are monitoring developments very closely and are aware of international concerns. However, the decision whether or not to proceed with the event is a matter for the teams and Formula 1."

Reebok, which has a sponsorship agreement with the Sahara Force India team, was a little more direct, writing "we will reach out to this team to understand their position on participation... given the ongoing civil unrest and evidence of human rights violations."

Bernie Ecclestone, whose financial control of F1 has made him a billionaire, struck a defiant tone with reporters today when they asked about the departure of two members of the Sahara Force India team, who flew home after seeing a burning car in Manama.

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