F1's teams have been accused of turning their back on Bahrain and of failing to show 'professionalism and respect to sport's neutrality'.
It follows the decision today by the organisers' of the Bahrain Grand Prix to abandon plans to re-schedule the race following opposition from FOTA [see separate story - click here
]. While that may be considered the right decision by some, not all agree and the Bahrain Independent
, one of the Gulf State's leading newspapers, has expressed its dismay in no uncertain terms.
“The news of F1 coming back to Bahrain have made the youth, fans and people enthusiastic. The F1 date has been regarded unofficially as the countdown to 'set things right' in Bahrain, to receive the international event with welcoming smiles as always,” read a piece in the 'paper.
“What I do not get is why do the racing teams boycott Bahrain? Why did the racing teams harm the very people who anticipate their contribution each year?
“Haven't they always enjoyed Bahrain? The people of Bahrain have always took pleasure in personally meeting and greeting tourists and visitors, took pride in showing-off their beautiful kingdom and talk about their culture.
“To help Bahrain when it is in need is not to turn your back on it, it is to come and participate in reviving the unity of its people, to participate the warm smiles that welcome you each year and serve you each year.”
The report concluded by adding: “F1 would have helped Bahrain in many ways. Most importantly, it would have pushed both sides of the community to unite for an event Bahrain waits for annually with anticipation, preparation and hard work.
“The very essence of sports is to be 'politically free', to be neutral, to forget all about the world and concentrate on the game. If true sportsmanship was adapted by the F1 teams, who unfortunately decided to boycott Bahrain, not only they would have shown their professionalism and respect to sport's neutrality, but they would have been the very heroes who united Bahrain.”
Human rights grounds meanwhile, unsurprisingly, see it rather differently and the report by the FIA's Carlos Gracia, who said there is an 'atmosphere of total calm and stability', that 'life in Bahrain is completely normal again', a report which the FIA's World Motor Sport Council based its decision on last Friday, was slammed earlier this week.
“Reading the FIA's Bahrain report is like stepping into the Twilight Zone,” said Ricken Patel, Executive Director at Avaaz, speaking before
news the event had been dropped again. “While FIA's sham report says that no human rights have been violated, at least 31 Bahrain citizens have been killed and hundreds more tortured and imprisoned. Formula One based their decision to race in Bahrain on this dangerously irresponsible report, a decision now universally opposed by the F1 teams.”
Maryam Al-Khawaja, from the independent Bahrain Center for Human Rights, added: “The report is disastrously unbalanced. The FIA has chosen to turn a blind eye to the ongoing violations in Bahrain. The government should allow independent human rights groups to do their work in Bahrain.”