Sky, BBC urged to boycott Bahrain Grand Prix
Published Apr 12 2012, 10:04 BST | By Andrew Laughlin
© Rex Features / The World of Sports SC
Campaign groups and activists are calling on broadcasters, including the BBC and Sky
, to boycott the Bahrain Grand Prix following recent disturbances in the Gulf state.
F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is to meet all 12 teams tomorrow in Shanghai to discuss whether the Bahrain Grand Prix should go ahead, the BBC
Sources within the sport have said that a number of teams expect the race on April 22 to be called off amid concerns over safety following violent unrest in Bahrain.
Last year, the Bahrain Grand Prix was scheduled to be the opening round of the 2011 season, but was postponed after civil unrest broke out in the Kingdom.
But discussing the situation in 2012, a senior official at governing body the FIA told the BBC
: "The race is still on. The situation is not like last year."
Should it go ahead, human rights campaigners have called on the broadcasters of F1 not to air the race as a protest against recent activity in the country.
Dr Ala'a Shehabi, an activist who has been talking to Ecclestone, confirmed that she will write to the BBC and Sky, which share the rights to the sport in the UK.
"Formula One is all about advertising, marketing, it's more about the commercial side than the actual sport itself," she is quoted as saying by The Guardian
"So we know that in broadcasting, you're encouraging all of the commercial interests in the sport which puts finance over human rights. That is what the major moral issue is here.
"If we can target the broadcasters, we can at least cut some of the possibility of profits made from advertising, at least… We will be asking them (the broadcasters) to examine their endorsement of Formula One. If they stay unquestioned, they won't think twice about broadcasting."
Since the Arab uprisings of 2011, there have been continued calls for reform in the Gulf state of Bahrain, coming from the country's Shia majority against the Sunni ruling family.
Zainab al-Khawaja, whose father Abdulhadi al-Khawaja has been on hunger strike for 63 days, told The Guardian
that broadcasting the Grand Prix would be like telling the people of Bahrain "that nothing has changed".
"If the Formula One does come to Bahrain, despite calls from the Bahraini people and activists for it to be cancelled, then we would like to see that there are people supporting our cause, and who would not broadcast this race," she said.
"Bringing Formula One, putting all these ads everywhere, celebration, celebration, celebration, while people are suffocating in their villages from teargas, while a marcher dies just two weeks ago and while my father is dying in a military hospital is just sending the message to the people of Bahrain that nothing has changed."
In a statement, the BBC said: "As the race had been officially sanctioned by the FIA we would expect to cover the events as part of our contractual obligations. However, we are in regular communication with the FIA and will be monitoring the situation closely."
Sky had no comment on the situation.> BBC Sport app launches on Virgin's TiVo, starts with F1 coverage