News channels overnight (and the buzz around social networking channels like Twitter and Facebook) have reported The Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead on 22 April as planned, as announced by the motor sport’s governing body, the FIA.
The statement from FIA confirmed its ‘satisfaction’ that “all proper security measures are in place for the running of a Formula One World Championship event in Bahrain“.
But, that statement was (and remains) overshadowed by continued unrest in Bahrain and the protest and disgust was made clear overnight in social media.
The Bahrain authorities assured Formula One personnel that ‘disturbances were limited to outlying villages where groups have clashed with police, who have been forced to combat petrol bombs with water cannons, tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets‘. Yep. Sounds like a wonderful place to visit.
South Africa (among many African Nations) have had violence, uprisings and political unrest over the past decades but they got the FIFA World Cup – so what the difference is a Grand Prix going to make? A headline prior to the 2010 World Cup read: ‘The South African government admitted it was worried about violent protests breaking out during the World Cup.’
Erm… Not sure that materialised, did it?
There was also widespread anger following the tournament about the £2.9bn poured into hosting Africa’s first football World Cup while millions of South African people live in poverty. Now that, I can understand and agree with completely. Kind of like the extortionate amount of money being spent on London 2012 while we have no money in the UK! We are well p–d off too!
The point is: Unrest and instability have often been a concern in locations where sports events were planned but, in most cases, the event went ahead regardless of the possible risks.
Is it right or wrong for the F1 money machine to roll into town?
After all, the race was cancelled last year so what’s so different this year?
Well, considering the amount of “bad shit” going on in the world that goes unnoticed every single day of our lives, it doesn’t really make a lot of difference on the grand scale of things, does it? And that is possibly one reason. Or is there more to it than that?
Does money have anything to do with the decision to race in Bahrain?
Ah. Well. Didn’t think you’d ask that (but, I hoped you would).
Let’s think about it. Let’s think about all those organisations and individuals who would lose a few farthings if the Bahrain Grand Prix did not go ahead…
- Sponsors get less exposure.
- TV Networks earn less due to the lack of premium commercials.
- All the behind the scenes TV and Radio staff lose out because they’d be sat at home rather than baking in the middle-east sun.
- Merchandisers would sell no merchandise.
- Etc., etc., blah blah blah…
Here’s a snippet that might make you think:
Bahrain pays one of the largest fees for its race, is influential within the FIA and is a shareholder of McLaren.
There’s a lot of funding and finances that come from Abu Dhabi and Bahrain and the Middle East.
I love watching Formula 1 and have great respect for the talents of the drivers so I’m doing my best not to let that influence my thoughts. However, I don’t think most of the drivers give a monkeys. Don’t get me wrong, they want to drive. They want to be out there racing but that could be in the supermarket car park or a plush Bahrain race track – as long as they are in an F1 cockpit most of them don’t particularly care.
And besides, most of them are under strict corporate orders to have no opinion (or else), always smile and say life is wonderful and we are all very optimistic (like football players etc who are muted by ‘politics’ of sport).
Australian Red Bull driver Mark Webber said what many leading Formula 1 figures are saying, that ‘it was for governing body, the FIA, to decide if the race should go ahead‘ but made it clear he has concerns. Webber explained that Red Bull have planned enhanced security for the Bahrain weekend, but said: “I accept not everyone can have that and that doesn’t make me feel comfortable.“
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was one of several leading figures to say he would ‘leave it up to the FIA to decide the best course of action.’ ”I don’t really have any position. I don’t feel it’s my place or anyone else’s place to comment. We have to wait for the FIA for their decision.”
Hamilton’s team-mate Jenson Button added: “Some will be outspoken, some won’t. Some can be, some can’t. We have to look to the FIA. Hopefully they know all the facts and will make the right call. To say the teams can decide is wrong.”
So, sod the potential risk, the race is on.
Amidst violent protests, not against sport or capitalism (for a change) but aimed primarily at achieving greater political freedom and respect for human rights, do you think the FIA have made the right decision to run the Formula 1 Race in Bahrain on April 22nd? Does it make any difference at all considering the extent of all the on-going problems in our extremely unbalanced world?
Here’s another question to plonk into your grey-matter: Is the ‘unrest’ as bad as media wants us to think it is or is it just ‘enhanced’ to sell more newspapers and get more traffic to news websites?
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