It’s rare to hear sports personalities to speak on matters that are political in nature. Though they have been regularly recruited to become the faces of charity works and advocacy campaigns, very rare to hear them actually speak their minds on the certain issues of today.
Formula One driver Mark Webber of the Red Bull team has spoken out on the re-scheduling of the Bahrain Grand Prix after it was cancelled last March due to the political unrest that ensued back then.
GrandPrix.com quotes Mark Webber from this website:
In my personal opinion, the sport should have taken a much firmer stance earlier this year rather than constantly delaying its decision in hope of being able to re-schedule it in 2011. 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.
As a competitor I do not feel at all comfortable going there to compete in an event when, despite reassurances to the contrary, it seems inevitable that it will cause more tension for the people of that country. I don’t understand why my sport wishes to place itself in a position to be a catalyst for that.
Though things have calmed down in Bahrain with the lifting of the state of emergency by the Bahraini government with an invitation from the Royal Palace to opposition groups for talks in resolving the conflict.
Will the re-scheduled Bahrain Grand Prix this October push through? I guess it will depend on how the talks between the government and the opposition groups would turn out.
Adding a more resounding voice to the opposition in continuing with the Bahrain Grand Prix, former FIA president Max Mosley has warned that the decision to race again in Bahrain could be something that Formula One would regret:
It is worth remembering that the trouble in Bahrain began with peaceful protest. The crowds were not seeking the removal of the ruling family, merely a move towards democracy and rights for the Shia majority comparable to those enjoyed by the Sunni elite.
These modest demands were soon met with brutal repression. Demonstrators were shot dead. Protesters were imprisoned and, according to credible reports, hideously mistreated, even tortured and killed.
Doctors and nurses who treated the injured were themselves arrested and imprisoned. When these measures failed to crush the protests, the Bahrain government called in troops from neighbouring Saudi Arabia to crush all opposition with naked force.
Having carried out these horrific acts, the Bahrain government wants to clean up its image. That’s where the Grand Prix comes in. By running the race they hope to show the world the troubles were just a small, temporary difficulty and everything is now back to normal.
By agreeing to race there, Formula One becomes complicit in what has happened. It becomes one of the Bahrain government’s instruments of repression. The decision to hold the race is a mistake which will not be forgotten and, if not reversed, will eventually cost Formula One dear.
Formula One has always been an exciting sport, even its internal political controversies. Now that the sport itself is being involved in international issues, things have taken on a new level of interest.