Formula 1 under fire for Saudi GP

Saudi GP

The new Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will enjoy a coastal setting. But is it just 'sportswashing'?

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Human rights groups have condemned the decision to hold a grand prix in Saudi Arabia next year and urged drivers and teams to speak out against the decision. The call comes amid a growing sense that F1 can no longer avoid the politicisation of the sport in the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights has been described as “heinous” by Amnesty International and it has been accused of “sportswashing” – using sport events to create a positive image. Human Rights Watch launched a campaign to counter what it says has been an effort by the Saudi government to spend billions hosting major events as “a strategy to deflect from the country’s image as a pervasive human rights violator”.

F1 chief executive Chase Carey said that all partners and host countries are committed “to respect human rights in the way their events are hosted and delivered”.

The November night race will run along Jeddah’s corniche, facing the Red Sea.