Sunday, 22 April 2012

Grand Prix disgrace

I'm doing fine. However I'm a bit wrapped up in my book at the moment, and so I'm afraid I'll have to resort to short bulletins, or borrow from other sources. (What's new?) Good news and bad news this weekend as far as I'm concerned. Good - Bristol City escaped relegation from the Championship, and, the bad - Formula 1 Grand Prix took place in Bahrain despite the violent suppression of the Shiite majority by the ruling Sunni élite. All the local majority want is to be given the vote, and yet civil rights campaigners are arrested and shot in their "Arab Spring" and the doctors who treated them banged up in jail after sham trials.

Bernie Ecclestone, Jean Todt and their millionaire pals claim that F1 is merely a sport and nothing to do with politics. They show a strangely short memory of history and a blinkered view of reality. They seem to have forgotten the part that the cricket and rugby boycotts played in bringing apartheid to an end in South Africa. I'm proud of the lead that David Sheppard gave. Of course sport and politics are intimately bound up. Why were we so keen to land the Olympics? And so annoyed at not hosting the World Cup? Because they're a source of prestige and, we hope, income for the country. And that's exactly why the Bahraini government wanted to stage the Grand Prix again - in spite of their grisly human rights record. The one good thing is that it seems to have backfired in their face somewhat, as the world has suddenly become aware of the unrest and human rights abuses in their country to a degree which wouldn't otherwise have happened. No one can be under the illusion that life is back to normal now - and hopefully no one will forget, and even more it is to be hoped that the Formula 1 circus won't return there next year, unless they have put their civil rights' house in order.

I know it's a gesture which made no difference except to me, but I boycotted the BBC broadcast race highlights and I don't even know the results order. Probably they were contracted to broadcast it, but personally I think they should have starved the race of the oxygen of publicity. I admit my boycott was silly but still it was satisfying in a sedentary way.

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