This’ll shock you: I’m not an expert on Bahrain Politics. Every morning for the past week the BBC has been reporting on the protests in the Bahrain capital of Manama ahead of this weekend’s F1 Grand Prix. The Beeb, who coincidentally last season lost it’s right to exclusively cover F1, has devoted extensive coverage (or as extensive a coverage as the Bahrain govt will allow) of the protests against the shocking human rights violations, and against the Formula 1 juggernaut staging a show at this time.
Amazingly, and what really amazed me, the Crown Prince of Bahrain thinks the race should go ahead. As does Bernie Ecclestone. The BBC actually bothered to broadcast that interview. Hold that front page. Bernie, sounding more and more like Porky Pig as he’s asked to justify racing during the start of a revolution may as well have said “Erbederbederbederbe th th th that’s all folks”. This race means a lot of cash for Bernie and F1 and he wasn’t about to start giving coherent answers to pertinent questions just to satisfy news outlets.
Instead he went down the “never mix sport with politics” line. A line he conveniently forgot a few years ago when he was bunging Tony Blair a million quid. It’ll be tough for Bernie to regain and rebuild his reputation after this one (what am I saying ?? WHAT reputation ?) especially after the F1 road show moves on in the next few weeks to the Burmese, North Korean and the ever-popular 1930s Germany Grand Prix(s). [subs: please fill in here the plural of Prix]
True to form, the British Government have been Chocolate Teapotting this one. Not a word has come from Cameron or the Tory govt (I think we can forget the Con-Dems now, as they’re even lagging behind UKIP in the polls) about not traveling to Bahrain, or propping up an evil society (and how could they, indeed? ). So the Democracy movement in Manama is left to fend for itself. Protestors on the streets of the capital, petrol bombs thrown at tanks and armoured cars. I woke this morning to hear on the radio to reports of columns of tanks forming on the city streets, which at first I mis-heard as “the re-formation of Manama Armour ” Thanks god I was mistaken. No-one needs to hear their version of Venus again.
It fills me with nostalgia seeing wave after wave of F1 drivers lined up in front of the cameras to trot out lines such as “sport is the most important thing” (Felipe Massa) . Similar stuff was script-written for the rebel cricket tours of South Africa in the 1980s and 90s when the cream of English cricket disgustingly ignored the plight of black and coloured South Africans under the apartheid regime and took part in a series of matches which many saw as an endorsement of the racist system and administration. The players were exiled from the sport thereafter, but many (or even most) have been reinstated to some of the highest positions the game can offer. It’s not something the sport should be proud of.
I don’t expect for one minute they will down-tools and come out on the side of the trodden masses. I suspect the Bernie’s hierarchy (or lowerarchy in his case) has the morals and conscience of the Dwayne Chambers Fan Club. Chambers looks like he’s going to win his case against the British Olympic Committee‘s by-law ruling that the drug-taking sprinter should be barred from competing at the Stratford Sports Day this summer. He and the other cheat (that we know of), cyclist David Millar look likely to be allowed to race alongside others who took the rather naive route of hard work, good diet and hard training to achieve their goals. Well Done the Olympic Movement !! Do you have anything else up your sleeve which may make these games less attractive to watch ?
Now the good news: Claire Balding is to leave the BBC, probably to go a work for the Channel 4 Racing team, where her anticipated teaming up with John McCririck seems likely to be the first X-Rated horse racing coverage on British TV. I’m having nightmares about it already. Balding will leave after the BBC (yes, I am having a go at them again) shed their responsibility of covering the Grand National and therefore just about their entire racing coverage. No great shakes, you might think. But for me it means La Balding won’t be popping her fat head and chin up during coverage of any of the remaining sport which the state broadcaster clings on to.
Rapidly fashioning herself as a poor man’s Steve Ryder, Claire will now doubtless be employed to take the piss out the teeth of competitors at the Paralympics, which only Channel 4 have the rights to. Imagine ie: Balding, McCririck and Hopeless Deley. What a missed opportunity.
Finally, the cheering yet astounding news that Fabrice Muamba may play soccer again. In an interview to be published in tomorrow’s Sun on Sunday (let me know how it reads, will you ?) describes how, even though they are baffled by what happened to him and his heart, doctors have not ruled out the possibility of the 24 year old Bolton FC footballer playing the game again. The popular midfielder “died” on the pitch for 78 minutes last month (please, no Charlton jokes here) yet the chances are he will play again. Truly amazing and inspiring.
My doctor told me this week that there’s no chance of playing cricket all the time I’m still taking Warfarin. The chances of nicking myself and spurting blood all over my short and square legs is too much of a risk to take. So that rules out another season for me. He did, however reckon I’ll be able to play golf, “no problem at all”. Which will be a first for me.
Now back to Ted Kravitz in the Pit Lane.