Formula 1 has come under criticism from human rights groups for its decision to carry on with the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled to take place on Aprill 22nd.
Last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix was cancelled after the country was rocked by anti-government protests, which saw a brutal crackdown by the state.
Nabeel Rajab, vice president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said,
"We will campaign for … drivers and teams to boycott. The government wants Formula One to tell the outside world that everything is back to normal. Formula One, if they come, they are helping the government to say [it is normal]. We would prefer it if they didn't take part. I am sure the drivers and teams respect human rights."
His call was backed by Mariwan Hama-Saeed, of New York-based Human Rights Watch, who said,
"[The FIA] should consider the serious abuse of human rights in Bahrain and the fact that to this day authorities continue to suppress pro-democracy protests."
"I doubt that Formula 1 can be a success in a country where serious human rights abuses have been committed. The political situation is unstable and polarised in Bahrain. We are very concerned about the government's commitment to implement meaningful reform."
Formula 1 teams are also reported to be unhappy with attending the race, with Mercedes – which runs its own team and supplies engine to two others – and Formula 1’s sole tyre supplier Pirelli rumoured to have expressed their dissatisfaction to the sport’s governing body.
In 2011, Formula 1 driver Mark Webber spoke out against the decision to go to Bahrain, commenting,
"It would have sent a very clear message about F1’s position on something as fundamental as human rights and how it deals with moral issues.
“It’s obvious that the parties involved have struggled to reach a decision but sadly I feel that they still haven’t made the right one. Like it or not, F1 and sport in general isn’t above having a social responsibility and conscience. I hope F1 is able to return to Bahrain eventually but now isn’t the right time.
See our earlier post: Criticism of Formula One on aborted Bahrain race (15 June 2011)
The myth of sports and repressive regimes (03 Aug 2011)
A force for good or ill? Cricket and Sri Lanka today (08 July 2011)
Why a sports boycott is essential for justice (02 July 2011)
Impossible to ignore (21 June 2011)
The link between Sport and Politics (20 June 2011)