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Bahrain and Formula 1

February 19, 2011
Entertainment can be a wonderful thing.

Whether it be sports or drama or film or any other form for that matter, it has the power to make people smile, think and feel good. Often when I sit down to watch motor racing or when Doctor Who (geek) or some other show comes on, I chill out and relax.
There are times when entertainment is inappropriate; times when more serious matters come to the fore. The current situation in Bahrain is one of those moments — and it is frankly not right for the Grand Prix to happen.

The moment the armies began to charge on the protesters in Pearl Square in Bahrain’s capital of Manama, the Grand Prix should have been pulled. The moment reports of deaths and injuries inflicted by the Bahraini army started to float in, the race should been pulled. The moment forces were captured freely opening fire on the Bahraini people, the race should have been pulled.
Now governments are beginning to tell citizens that non-essential travel to Bahrain should be avoided, with the likes of Australia, Canada, the US and the UK leading the way.

Just kill the race now. We know that it is not going to happen, so just stop wasting time. Every moment that this race is still in place, gives the impression that Formula 1 supports a (now openly) brutal regime. For every moment wasted, the blood on the hands gets thicker. Those sins are hard to wash off.
Right now, no one needs the Bahrain Grand Prix, especially not the people of Bahrain. Sometimes, there are more important things in life that motor racing.

6 Comments
  1. The memories of F1 racing under Apartheid South Africa still smarts.

    Bernie was, sadly, just being Bernie. I bet there is a clause in his contract that if he cancels the race he pays… If the Foreign Office stops anyone from travelling to the race then I bet Bernie’s off the hook and gets to keep his money.

    • Leigh O'Gorman permalink

      I think you are absolutely right there. It seems very much to be a case of who blinks first.

  2. To be clear… I don’t think we should be racing in Bahrain and it should have been cancelled already.

  3. 100% with you, Leigh. If this could have been avoided and guaranteed to not happen a month ago, that would have been one thing. But, here we are just 3 weeks away from the potential race, and things are just as uneasy over there. By the way, this is me basically glibly glossing over the whole “brutal regime” thing and the political ramifications of F1 appearing to support such a government, which is sort of semi-debatable (if you are one of those people who wants to debate such things), and just looking at the actual physical danger the crews would be in by going, which I feel is not debatable even one little bit. Anyway, it’s crazy to me that cargo would have to be shipping out in a little over a week, protests are still going on, armored vehicles are still rolling around, and the race hasn’t been cancelled yet. Just crazy.

  4. It occurs to me three minutes later that my last comment was very poorly worded (that’s what I get for trying to tackle serious topics at 7:00 AM after being woken up by a mistakenly set alarm clock at 5:00 AM). To be sure, I am not letting the Bahraini government off the hook, and I do think that it is obviously a brutal regime to behave the way it has done in the last few weeks (and this is ignoring the civil rights violations that I understand have been documented against them, which are a further indictment). I’m basically just saying that even if you’re one of those people who is willing to turn a blind eye to what a government has done in the past (and present), you can not ignore the actual physical danger the teams would likely be in if they were to make the trip to Bahrain. That aspect alone should get the race cancelled, let alone the philosophical arguments.

    • Leigh O'Gorman permalink

      Aye – to be honest, I have avoided the deeper arguments about the territory for the simple reason, my knowledge of the country is severely limited beyond F1, but…
      Arguments can be made about the pros and cons of a number of countries that Formula 1 races in; however most nations tend not to be wielding tanks against it’s own people.

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