Editor's Note: Pedro is an intern at the
Asser Institute and currently studying the Erasmus Mundus Master Degree in
Sports Ethics and Integrity (KU Leuven et al.) He worked as a research fellow for the Centre for Sport and
Human Rights, and his
primary research interests lie in the fields of International Human Rights
can’t do everything and I can’t do it alone. I need allies.” These are the words of the seven-time Formula 1 (F1) world champion,
Lewis Hamilton. He was urging more support to advocate for the protection of
human rights in the countries visited by Formula 1. During the last years, Hamilton together with Sebastian Vettel, have become the leaders of a movement demanding
accountability and greater awareness of the impact of F1 on society.
inclusion of the Bahrain GP on the F1 racing calendar for the first time in
2004 ignited concerns, which have grown with the inclusion of Abu Dhabi in
2007, Russia in 2014, Azerbaijan in 2017, and Saudi Arabia and Qatar in 2021.
The inability and lack of commitment of state authorities to protect and
respect human rights, the ineffectiveness of judicial procedures and the
systematic repression of political opposition are some of the factors that make
these countries prone to human rights violations. Academics and CSOs regularly argue that F1, by signing multi-million dollar contracts with these countries, is complicit in sportswashing. Those pulling the sport’s strings deny
these accusations and claim that human rights are at the centre of their agenda when they visit these countries. They
claim F1 can drive the improvement of human rights standards in a particular
country. However, reality tells a different story. The Bahrain GP has been
running for more than a decade and the situation in the country has only worsened, without any signs of F1 contributing to the
improvement of the protection of human rights there.
blog aims to provide an overview of the human rights challenges F1 is facing when
hosting a Grand Prix. For this purpose, a case study of the Bahrain GP, one of
the longest-running on the modern/current
F1 calendar, will be carried out. This will allow us to examine in detail the
historical evolution of the GP, the complaints from civil society organisations
and the reaction of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and
other stakeholders to the ongoing allegations of human rights violations.More...