MONTREAL - Faced with public threats of protests and disruption, the Canadian Grand Prix has cancelled the event's free opening day, a major tourist draw that has traditionally kicked off the race weekend in Montreal.

The open house would offer Formula One fans access to Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve on Thursday, giving racing lovers a chance to see cars up close, tour the pit lanes and get autographs from some of the drivers. Instead, it was scrapped due to security concerns.

Francois Dumontier, president of the Canadian GP, said that while organizers had no choice in the cancellation, the race itself will proceed under increased surveillance.

"Considering the various disruption threats made public recently, the free admission and the naturally openness character of the open house day, revealed some risks that we could not neglect," Dumontier said in a statement Sunday.

"Under these circumstances, cancelling the 'Open House' day was the only action we could take. Unfortunately, for the fans and our spectators, it was impossible to escape from such responsibility."

There have been suggestions student groups could use the race as a platform for the demonstrations over tuition fees. Quebec's Education Minister Michelle Courchesne last week accused the group CLASSE of threatening to "fix" the Grand Prix.

Spokesman Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois tried to clarify his group's position over the weekend, saying it would use the event as a forum to raise its grievances with the province but wouldn't prevent people from going to the race. Martine Desjardins, the head of another student association, said the threat to the Grand Prix was exaggerated.

"I don't think this was a real threat," Desjardins said, adding that the Quebec government had blown the issue out of proportion to "discredit the student movement."

Student groups aren't the only ones who have had their eyes on the race.

An anti-capitalist group known as CLAC promised to hold disruptive demonstrations throughout the event. The group has handed out pamphlets encouraging protests against what it calls a "crass elite," including one outside a Formula One cocktail party on Thursday.

The online activist collective Anonymous has also been involved. The group is being investigated by Montreal police for an email threat sent to more than 100 people with tickets to the June 10 race. The group also hacked into a website selling tickets to the race that contains personal information on buyers, including names, phone numbers, email addresses and ticket details.

Protests over university tuition hikes have caused major traffic headaches and hurt downtown businesses over the past several months. There has been a march every night in Montreal for the past 41 consecutive days.

The Grand Prix is the first of several major summer events in Montreal, and there are concerns ongoing demonstrations could keep tourists away. The head of the city's Just for Laughs festival announced Sunday he wanted to meet with student leaders early this week to come up with a plan to avoid disruptions.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest has been critical of threats toward the race that generates an estimated $100 million in revenue for the city. More than 300,000 spectators are expected to attend the June 8-10 event.

Maude Couturier, a protester at the city's late-night march on Sunday, said the movement was too important to be concerned about the loss of a car racing event.

"If it means losing a tourist season, I'm for it," she said. "I know the Grand Prix brings a lot of money to the city, but that's that."

Related on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Student protesters stage a sit-in as pol

    Student protesters stage a sit-in as police in riot gear block off street access to the International Economic Forum of the Americas, an annual global summit that has drawn more than 3,000 participants from a dozen countries, in Montreal on June 11, 2012. For four months, students, joined by anti-capitalists, have held protests against plans by the Quebec provincial government to increase tuition fees by 75 percent. The forum is being held June 11-14. AFP PHOTO/ROGERIO BARBOSA (Photo credit should read ROGERIO BARBOSA/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Protesters face police in riot gear bloc

    Protesters face police in riot gear blocking off street access to the International Economic Forum of the Americas, an annual global summit that has drawn more than 3,000 participants from a dozen countries, in Montreal on June 11, 2012. For four months, students, joined by anti-capitalists, have held protests against plans by the Quebec provincial government to increase tuition fees by 75 percent. The forum is being held June 11-14. AFP PHOTO/ROGERIO BARBOSA (Photo credit should read ROGERIO BARBOSA/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Student protesters face police in riot g

    Student protesters face police in riot gear blocking off street access to the International Economic Forum of the Americas, an annual global summit that has drawn more than 3,000 participants from a dozen countries, in Montreal on June 11, 2012. For four months, students, joined by anti-capitalists, have held protests against plans by the Quebec provincial government to increase tuition fees by 75 percent. The forum is being held June 11-14. AFP PHOTO/ROGERIO BARBOSA (Photo credit should read ROGERIO BARBOSA/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Student protesters face police in riot g

    Student protesters face police in riot gear blocking off street access to the International Economic Forum of the Americas, an annual global summit that has drawn more than 3,000 participants from a dozen countries, in Montreal on June 11, 2012. For four months, students, joined by anti-capitalists, have held protests against plans by the Quebec provincial government to increase tuition fees by 75 percent. The forum is being held June 11-14. AFP PHOTO/ROGERIO BARBOSA (Photo credit should read ROGERIO BARBOSA/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Police use pepper spray and fight with protesters during an arrest on St. Catharines Street near the Montreal Grand Prix festival area Sunday, June 10, 2012, in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Peter McCabe)

  • Demonstrators hold a sign displaying concern about sexual exploitation during a march protesting the Canadian Grand Prix auto race in Montreal, Saturday, June 9, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Peter McCabe)

  • A protester confronts police as he and others tried to enter the Grand Prix festival area of Montreal Friday, June 8, 2012. The protesters clashed briefly with the police and there were two arrests. Participants were trying to call attention to pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain

  • A protester confronts police as he and others tried to enter the Grand Prix festival area of Montreal Friday, June 8, 2012. The protesters clashed briefly with the police and there were two arrests. Participants were trying to call attention to pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain

  • Police arrest a demonstrator trying to disrupt the opening gala at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal on Thursday, June 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Ryan Remiorz, The Canadian Press)

  • Guests walk past riot police as they arrive the opening gala for the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix, which protesters tried to disrupt, in Montreal on Thursday, June 7, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)

  • Police talk to a demonstrator as they take another, right, into custody before a cocktail party kicking off the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix festivities in Montreal, Canada, on Thursday, June 7, 2012. About 20 people were arrested and police said they confiscated light bulbs filled with paint. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

  • Police officers run toward demonstrators before a cocktail party kicking off the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix festivities in Montreal, Canada, on Thursday, June 7, 2012. About 20 people were arrested and police said they confiscated light bulbs filled with paint. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

  • Protesters march in the rain through the streets of Montreal to protest against bill 78 on Saturday, June 2, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Peter McCabe)

  • Protesters march in the streets of Montreal to demonstrate against tuition hikes and Quebec's Bill 78 aimed at controlling student demonstrations Wednesday, May 30, 2012 in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)

  • Protesters march in the streets of Montreal to demonstrate against tuition hikes and Quebec's Bill 78 aimed at controlling student demonstrations Wednesday, May 30, 2012 in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)

  • Demonstrators march down a street to protest against tuition hikes and Quebec's Bill 78 aimed at control student demonstrations on Tuesday, May 29, 2012, in Montreal. College and university students from Quebec and the provincial government returned to the bargaining table Tuesday for a second day of talks in an attempt to end a sometimes violent months-long dispute over tuition hikes. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)

  • Demonstrators march down a street to protest against tuition hikes and Quebec's Bill 78 aimed at control student demonstrations on Tuesday, May 29, 2012, in Montreal. College and university students from Quebec and the provincial government returned to the bargaining table Tuesday for a second day of talks in an attempt to end a sometimes violent months-long dispute over tuition hikes. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)

  • A lawyer addresses students following a march of hundreds of lawyers in the streets of Montreal to protest against Quebec's Bill 78 aimed at controlling student demonstrations Monday, May 28, 2012 in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)

  • Hundreds of lawyers march in the streets of Montreal to protest against Quebec's Bill 78 aimed at control student demonstrations Monday, May 28, 2012 in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)

  • Police keep watch as hundreds of lawyers march in the streets of Montreal to protest against Quebec's Bill 78 aimed at control student demonstrations Monday, May 28, 2012 in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)

  • Student protesters stage a sit-in as pol

    Student protesters stage a sit-in as police in riot gear block off street access to the International Economic Forum of the Americas, an annual global summit that has drawn more than 3,000 participants from a dozen countries, in Montreal on June 11, 2012. For four months, students, joined by anti-capitalists, have held protests against plans by the Quebec provincial government to increase tuition fees by 75 percent. The forum is being held June 11-14. AFP PHOTO/ROGERIO BARBOSA (Photo credit should read ROGERIO BARBOSA/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Demonstrators march down a street to protest against tuition hikes and Quebec's Bill 78 aimed at control student demonstrations on Tuesday, May 29, 2012, in Montreal. College and university students from Quebec and the provincial government returned to the bargaining table Tuesday for a second day of talks in an attempt to end a sometimes violent months-long dispute over tuition hikes. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)