There is an awful lot of debate still ongoing about the running of the F1 in Bahrain. The pretty odious Bernie Eccelstone , whos hobbies include comparing women to domestic appliances and praising hitler has said that the raging battles for democracy in the state are nothing to do with him. There has been an ongoing uprising in Bahrain for a year, with a particular irish interest in the relationship the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland has had with the country. The evidence of torture by police and security is so overwhelming that even a state sponsored commission admitted it was there.
Why the fuss however over Bahrain? This year the F1 races will take place in a large number of states with pretty ropy human rights records. I don’t recall a huge fuss about running F1 races in
- malaysia, where judicial caning is a punishment and where press freedom is severely curtailed
- china, well where does one start
- singapore, where again press freedom (see world press freedom Index) is low
- abu dhabi, where as with many countries homosexuality is illegal.
- the usa, a country with the highest percentage imprisonment rate in the world, where the death penalty still is used and where children as young as 14 can be tried as adults
- brazil one might note has persistent problems with its record on prisoners and indigenous peoples rights and one might even suggest Hungary is emerging as possessing new Secret police modelled on the old style
I have never been of the view that sport and politics are separate. Nor should sports organisations pretend that in bringing events to countries they will not in some way be or be see to be endorsing at best the legitimacy and at worst the policies therein. The sporting boycott on the apartheid regime in South Africa played a small but honourable role in first highlighting then pressurising and finally ending that system. Maybe it’s time to consider such again.