F1: Bahrain – Beyond Sports – Part 1
When Politics and Economics cross paths with Sports, the waters become muddy and the joy of sports is lost. We all know that F1 is more business than sports these days and to an extent, we understand and accept that as fact. So when is F1 no longer considered a sport? Perhaps it’s when it gets entangled in a political struggle of morality and finance.
Look, I’m not going to try to educate you all in a subject in which I myself really require to be educated in. The situation is complex and far too sensitive for me to either do it justice or properly argue. By now, we have listened, viewed and read articles by many news agencies about the protests and human rights struggles in Bahrain. In F1 circles, there have been some great articles by Joe Saward, James Allen, Autosport and countless bloggers etc… I suggest you look some of them up for a better understanding.
What you should know:
The name Abdulhadi Alkhawaja is now known around the world. He is a Bahraini-Danish human rights activists that is a co-founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR). Without getting into too much detail, Alkhawaja was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment for leading and participating in pro-democracy protests. He has been on a hunger strike for more than 60 days now and it shall continue until “freedom or death”. If his death were to happen before the GP, if it is not cancelled, there will most likely be bloodshed.
In the News:
There have been anti-F1 protests as well lately with police forces engaging tear-gas and physical force in some instances. This to me is a clear sign of instability. The general population do not want F1 in Bahrain at this time. There have been threats made and the statement that the safety of F1 personnel cannot be guaranteed.
It is time for the teams to speak up and refuse to go Bahrain in this Saturday’s meeting in China. It should not even come to this in my opinion as the FIA should have already stepped in as the sport’s governing body and made the decision to cancel the GP.
I put the question to Twitter on whether the race should be postponed or canceled. Here were some of the responses:
@busahar: #F1 is not welcomed in our country since we are dieing by our royal family !!!
@UOBahrain: Cancel it. There will no be race on #Bahrain ppl blood.
@UOBahrain Hamad regime is using #F1 as a political resoune 2 say that #Bahrain is ok. But if we boycott this race it will be a strong / letter 2 #Bahrain gov 2 stop crackdown peaceful protesters N free HR activist #Alkahwaja ,who is in hunger strike 60d.
@Jindivik72: #Bahrain If the protests where people are getting shot are about the GP, how could you not cancel it.
@masterwill_86: how can it possibly go ahead? hope common sense delivers aswell, if it is cancelled again, possibly end of gp there full stop
@GrahamMClarkeUK: cancelled forever, the country is far too unstable and will be for the foreseeable future. Plenty of other countries available
@mcrisever: @GrahamMClarkeUK I agree too! cancell forever and “open door ” for new places / circuits #f1 cc / @FIA
@KateRumTruffle: i know someone who would be going if it went ahead. I’d rather not spend those days constantly worrying about their safety!
Thank you to all that responded and requested this article to be written. I hope that the readers allow these types of articles to circulate so it may educate or at least raise awareness of the issues. I hope that F1 and FIA do what seems to be the right thing and cancel the GP in Bahrain. If you’re not doing it for the fans or for the local population of the GP, then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Never should the safety of any one person or group take a back seat to financial considerations or political agenda.
Author: Ernie Black