Bernie Ecclestone must cancel the Bahrain Grand Prix

Comment

2010 Bahrain Grand Prix

2010 Bahrain Grand Prix

The full horror of what has gone in in Bahrain in recent days has now emerged.

Reports have emerged detailing protesters being killed with live rounds and surgeons beaten for trying to treat the injured.

Foreign journalists have been barred from entering the country and some of those who bore witness to the government’s clamp-down were beaten as well.

This weekend’s GP2 Asia race meeting was cancelled. Ambulances that should have been on stand-by at the track were instead among those driving the government’s victim to hospitals by the hundreds.

It is easy to make arguments about ‘moral hypocrisy’, and point to questionable actions taken by other governments in countries that F1 visits.

But showing up in Bahrain and accepting their money to race days after the world has watched it murder its citizens would be unconscionable.

The difficulty in guaranteeing the safety and security of the teams’ employees and everyone else who travels with the F1 circus is a further concern.

With testing due to begin at the circuit on March 3rd the first staff will be scheduled to arrive in Bahrain next week.

The desire to ensure the smooth running of the race would likely provoke another wave of repression from the security forces.

Those with longer memories recall how Formula 1 continued racing in South Africa in the seventies and eighties long after most other sports, repulsed by the brutal and racist apartheid regime, boycotted the country.

This attracted little attention 30 years ago when F1 was far less popular. Today the eyes of the world are on whether F1 will again turn a blind eye to the plight of an oppressed people out of its eagerness to line its coffers.

It must not.

2011 Bahrain Grand Prix

Image ?é?® Red Bull/Getty images

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341 comments on Bernie Ecclestone must cancel the Bahrain Grand Prix

  1. Philip said on 18th February 2011, 11:33

    I totally agree, what happened in Bahrain in disgusting and the race should not go ahead.

    However Ecclestone is himself a dictator so I don’t suppose he will listen unless the pressure is immense.

    It also begs a bigger question – of hypocrisy, after all F1 deals with a lot of corrupt regimes and this kind of thing happens on a daily basis in many places, just on a smaller scale. The only reason these countries can outbid European rivals is because they can spend their money with no accountability. Maybe it brings into question a good part of the calendar.

  2. Christine Biggs said on 18th February 2011, 11:36

    Ean, I’d like to know the other side too!

  3. This article is not news, this is like brainwashing.

    We cant say for sure what really happened and we cant say for sure if the people at the top are responsible for the things which happened on the ground.

    Like you said, Journalists are not allowed in the country. So the only info we have to work with is the word from a few very bias and questionable sources.

    I’ll reserve my judgement for when we actually know whats going on.

    • and of course protesters would say stuff like that. They have an agenda and they are trying very hard to operate an open smear champaign. The entire goal is to put the government in bad light in order to gain the support of the rest of the world.

      • Maciek said on 18th February 2011, 12:40

        That’s kind of like saying that we can’t know for sure that the sun has risen on a cloudy day because we can’t see it with our own eyes. Think about it – what is the only logical reason that foreign journalists not allowed into the country now?

      • Dobin1000 (@dobin1000) said on 18th February 2011, 12:51

        Well the government helped out a lot by attacking unarmed people why they slept – how fortunate for them…

    • Agreed. Finally some sense, rather than jumping on the ‘revolution’ bandwagon without any knowledge whatsoever of the country or what may or may be happening there.

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 18th February 2011, 12:08

      Ahm, but there were journalists, and they spoke to victims, and doctors. There were at least those covering GP2 – Will Buxton had an interview with CNN about what he witnessed. Also, there were videos online of what happened, including by a journalist who got beaten up for being around. It is not just the opinion of people with a grudge.

      No, we don’t have “evidence” to convict the “top” in Bahrain, I guess. But they are the government, they allowed this to happen – and they didn’t stop it either. Here in the Netherlands we have something called “ministerial responsibility” which means that a government minister is ultimately responsible for what his/her department does – regardless of actual culpability; the Bahrain government at least has that sort of responsibility for this.

      Maybe we will see a quick action by them to stop this and repair what they can for the victims, and that might help them stay on; but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. Not allowing journalists into the country is also a sign of that – even if it is done “for their own safety”.

    • Dobin1000 (@dobin1000) said on 18th February 2011, 12:51

      The article is headline ‘Comment’, not ‘News’.

      • Butler258 said on 18th February 2011, 18:11

        In addition to this, the subtitleof the site is usually along the lines of “The Formula One Blog” (cant see it atm because of the message to kubica)

        But what im getting at is, Keith can write whatever the hell he wants, “brainwashing” or not.

    • jihelle (@jihelle) said on 18th February 2011, 20:55

      Where have you heard that journalists are not allowed in the country ? It must be wrong because they are allowed to enter it. Just watch the News and you will have a full account of what is going on there. Then you are free to believe it or not. But as all the media are saying the same thing, that is that innocent demonstrating people were fired upon, I would tend to believe them.

  4. Christine Biggs said on 18th February 2011, 11:45

    As sport fans I don’t think we should be citing political or human right reasons for stopping the GP, that should be done in the appropriate arenas. But the physical violence which has occurred and hence the lack of medical backup should be enough to cancel the GP.

  5. Fergal said on 18th February 2011, 11:46

    Difference in this case is that the bernie’s comments incentivises the government to do what ever it takes to crush the protests by wednesday. In such a small country, the gp is vastly important to the rulers.

  6. lgs and Christine Biggs

    I believe youre still prepared to race in China as long as nobody start anything against the Goverment What is the difference between Bahrain and China or do you believe there is no violent action in China

    • Ean, appreciate the response, please go back and read all my posts and you will see that I do think outside of the box. The subject of global human rights atrocities is bigger than Ben Hur. I despised the Chinese actions in Tibet – and the West did nothing. I disagreed with the massive loss of civilian life in Iraq – in the name of ‘Liberating’ the people… and the list goes on. However, based on this logic, we would be holding only one F1 race each year, in the country of Bhutan, which apparently measures its GDP on the happiness of its people. The F1 in Bahrain will be cancelled, and rightly so, because of safety and security. However…and there is always an however…whatever the outcome of the present situation, I believe that it would be in very bad taste for the organisers of F1 to have the race in this country.

  7. The race has got to be cancelled, it is the only appropriate course of action. If F1 does not condemn what has happened, then no-one will. Governments buy an F1 race as a sign of international credibility, there is a line that has to be drawn and this is it

  8. so, ‘tony’ liuzzi for HRT? really, what do you guys think…

  9. p.s.
    sorry it’s off topic.

  10. Christine Biggs said on 18th February 2011, 12:07

    Ean, as I said in my last post, I don’t think sport should be used as a political agenda. I think the race should be stopped on the grounds of safety for the teams. The world is full of violence, and its getting worse. I think its all down to money and power, personal gain by most leaders, but its going to need more than a F1 race to stop it.

    • xtophe said on 18th February 2011, 13:17

      But everything is politics. China, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and even Turkey aren’t hosting GPs because motorsports are popular in those countries. They do it to show the world that they can host a major event like an F1 GP.

      Considering the situation in Bahrain, F1 should go for the moral high ground. It would not only be dangerous, but also disrespectful to host a multimillion dollar event when the government supplying those dollars is out on the streets trying to bully their opposition back into their homes. What is happening now is a PR-massacre for Bahrain.

      Many of the oil and gulfstates have the aura of modernity over them, but are in fact highly unequal and segregated societies. If F1 not showing up bursts that bubble, so be it.

  11. Keith, totally agree.

    Bernie, cancel this race asap.

  12. The testing and the race cannot go ahead under these circumstances, it would be so immoral ! If the race goes ahead, I will not watch it on TV or read anything about it!

  13. Christine Biggs
    I agree with you. I am leaving this topic now and try to focus on my passion for motorsport

  14. It is easy to make arguments about ‘moral hypocrisy’, and point to questionable actions taken by other governments in countries that F1 visits.

    But showing up in Bahrain and accepting their money to race days after the world has watched it murder its citizens would be unconscionable.

    So.. assuming His Majesty stays in charge and “extinguishes the fire”, when is it going to be okay to return and let him tour the paddock, everyone being all smiles. Next year?

  15. Matty55 said on 18th February 2011, 12:32

    I think purely on grounds of morality it should be cancelled. Theres no point racing around a track while people lay dead a couple of miles away and not too mention youd be putting the driver’s and the team’s staff’s lives at risk

  16. The situation will cool in Bahrain, the race can proceed. I’m sure that what the locals want as well.

  17. The situation has escalated badly in the last 24 hours. For safety reasons alone I now think the GP should be cancelled. I don’t think it should be a political statement – people can read whatever they like into it – but whatever the outcome of these protests I don’t see Bahrain being safe and stable enough for the F1 circus in a month’s time.

    • I completely agree with you Andy. It just seems too dangerous.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 18th February 2011, 14:19

      Agree. Although continuing with it now would be a political statement supporting the government.

      • I don’t believe that contiuning with it would be a political statement. Bernie has always distanced this sport from the politics of the country’s that host a GP. It would be political apathy but perhaps at its worst. The government may just use it for positive PR though if it did go ahead.

  18. WarfieldF1 said on 18th February 2011, 12:47

    good one Keith, well said.
    If F1 boycotted every country that had or has had some form of oppression then it would end up no-where; however as this is hapening now in Bahrain and the race is very very soon then it is appropriate that this years race in Bahrain is cancelled . Could they run it in Yas Marina as the Bahrain GP just like the Swiss GP was at Dijon and the San Marino in Italy? Seems logistically possible.
    Also, i hope this bloodshed ends ASAP and that Bahrain and ALL its people can resolve their issues/differences peacefully in the near future.

  19. Paul McCaffrey said on 18th February 2011, 12:47

    Perhaps cancel the Grand Prix in the country that ran over a protester with a tank.

  20. For most of yesterday I was fine with the notion of the GP going ahead (so long as it was safe for the people involved in F1 of course). If F1 got involved it would potentially open up a can of worms and although everything that is happening in Bahrain is terrible there are other countries who have appalling human rights records but don’t have people standing up and taking action and still have an F1 race like that is acceptable. I’m also usually against other countries gfetting involved and telling a nation, a culture that what they’re doing is wrong except in extreme circumstances but this is an extreme circumstance.

    I’d actually mostly been following the news about Iran at the time but then I started to read more articles, tweets etc on Bahrain and the idea of keeping F1 and politics seperate just didn’t sit right with me any more.

    F1 is regularly used as a symbol of prestige for countries because it is the ultimate motor racing championship or at least, it’s held in that regard. It’s used by goverments to show off which means that unfortunately, F1 and politics are very much linked.

    The F1 circus not showing up probably wouldn’t achieve anything at all except an even worse image but if the race did go ahead I know full well on Sunday I wouldn’t give a damn about who was winning or who was pulling out a stunning overtake or whatever the cameras are focussing upon when there apparently is so much violence going on around.

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