UK & World News
Bahrain: Why Grand Prix Is A No-Win Situation
There seems little doubt now that the Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead despite the efforts of protesters in the country and a sizeable body of public opinion across the world that it should have been called off.
In reality it should never have been put on. Not because of politics (more on that later) but because it was always going to be a catalyst for public disorder that would cause division, violence and death in a country struggling through a period of massive upheaval and potential change.
Formula One and its money men knew this would happen; they did the research. They just decided to say to themselves, as always, follow the money. It flows from Bahrain straight into their bank accounts.
The race teams and their drivers tinkering with their engines this morning will do their best to pretend they are in the "sporting world" and what's going on outside the pit lane and the race track is nothing to do with them.
They spend their working lives cocooned in ludicrous five-star luxury most of the time so they may successfully carry off this blinkered view of the real world for the time being; or they may not.
Funny thing about this "sport" is that a good number, if not the majority, are well-educated or privileged or rich or a mix of all, and they are certainly not stupid.
They are like the sporting equivalent of Nasa. The space agency employees, of course, have an excuse as they are thinking about stuff on another planet. Formula One teams have just put themselves on their own one.
Unfortunately, few - outside those who support the government of Bahrain or are "petrol heads" who don't care or have financial ties to the event or don't want their duty-free expat lives messed up or who hate Shia Muslims in general and stroppy Shia protestors in particular - could possibly think this was ever a "good idea".
Bahrain is in the midst of a difficult stage in its development. The government has taken a battering from abroad and is attempting to bring about change.
Many would argue it is pitifully slow to the point of being a cynical abuse of the word "change", but things have moved on a bit in the last year.
The point is that there are thousands upon thousands of ordinary Bahraini people who are discriminated against and marginalised and are second class citizens in their own country because they are not part of the Sunni minority.
They don't throw petrol bombs and they try to hold down jobs but they DO protest. For that many have been criminalised and branded as Iranian stooges.
One must accept that these are all issues for Bahrain and not for outsiders to get involved in; and it is absolutely true.
So when one knows this stuff is going on - don't go there; stay on your own planet.