João Salviano

With the unrest in Bahrain, the Formula 1 season-opening motor race planned for March 13, 2011 has been cancelled, thus postponing the beginning of the new season by two weeks to the great disappointment of millions of fans across the globe.

However, a question arises from this debacle. Should sporting authorities award the right to host sports competitions and events to countries like Bahrain?

For years now we have been witnessing the complete surrendering of sports to the power of money.  Transformed into bigger than life entertainment, where the stars of the different sports emerge as the new heroes and role models, sport has fast transformed itself into a vast money making machine without values or principles guiding it while it’s only subject to the money masters, whether they be sponsors or wealthy nations.

Bahrain, together with other Gulf states, like Qatar or the United Arab Emirates, has been receiving the right to host major sports events continuously, such as the World Cup 2022 being held in Qatar besides the different F1 races, Commonwealth and Asian games, among others. However, all along there has been not the merest reference to or questioning of their undemocratic and disrespectful human rights practices.

It is perhaps time to revisit how these kind of decisions are made and decide what is more important: should sports continue down this path or should they take on universal principles. If the latter, then major sporting events ought not be permitted to take place in countries whose citizens, far from being able to attend these events, except for small elite minorities, are abused and deprived of the most fundamental human rights and liberties? Maybe more revolutions are needed…