With the Olympic Games being held in Beijing this year many influential people have used the opportunity afforded by the publicity to attack China’s abysmal human rights record and support for regimes that perpetrate genocide.
F1’s had a Chinese Grand Prix since 2004. So are none of F1’s millions of fans bothered about being tainted by association with a country that has perpetrated and facilitated immense cruelty?
F1 had to face a similar issue in the late 1970s and early 1980s as it continued to host races in Apartheid South Africa while international pressure grew on the racist regime.
It is a subject that provokes strong opinions – to many fans the intrusion of politics into their favourite sport is an anathema. Others resent it as a hypocrisy, claiming other countries commit crimes of equal or greater magnitude and no-one complains about them.
But the counter-argument to that is pretty strongly put too. In this case we’re talking about China backing a regime that has killed 200,000 people and displaced a further two million. The money to build the Shanghai International Circuit had to come from somewhere, and China cashed a pretty big cheque selling weapons to the Sudanese.
Whatever your feelings about the politics and the Olympic Games, it depresses me that the question of whether F1 should be racing in China under the circumstances has been largely overlooked.
If the Olympics are going to Beijing and drawing attention to a major international issue, F1 seems to be shuffling into Shanghai and doing its best to ignore the same issue. I wonder if that might change by the time F1 returns to China in October, two months after the Olympics have finished.
Photo copyright: Red Bull / GEPA
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