Bahrain decision a costly mistake for F1 – Mosley

London: Former motor racing chief Max Mosley added his voice on Sunday to those opposed to Formula One racing in Bahrain this season, warning that the sport would pay a heavy price for the decision.

The sport`s governing body, that the Briton headed until 2009, announced on Friday that the country`s grand prix, scheduled for March but postponed amid a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, would be reinstated for Oct. 30.

The decision, sought by the country`s rulers and also backed by the main opposition party, has been heavily criticised by human rights campaigners and local activists.

"By agreeing to race there, Formula One becomes complicit in what has happened," the ex International Automobile Federation (FIA) president wrote in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

"It becomes one of the Bahrain government`s instruments of repression."

"The decision to hold the race is a mistake which will not be forgotten and, if not reversed, will eventually cost Formula One dear."

Mosley argued that while it was "not the function of a sporting body to seek to dictate to governments what they can and cannot do" it could not afford to be used for political purposes.

"We will be told that holding the Grand Prix in October will show that, once again, Bahrain is a happy, peaceful country. So why is it wrong for Formula One to go along with this?," he asked.

"Why is this different to running an event in any number of countries where people are oppressed, kept in poverty, held without trial and mistreated (or worse) in prison?

"Surely the line has to be drawn when a sporting event is not mere entertainment in a less-than-perfect country, but is being used by an oppressive regime to camouflage its actions," he continued.

"If a sport accepts this role, it becomes a tool of government. If Formula One allows itself to be used in this way in Bahrain, it will share the regime`s guilt as surely as if it went out and helped brutalise unarmed protesters."

Mosley`s comments were not the first time that the son of 1930s British fascist leader Oswald Mosley has had his differences with Bahrain.

In 2008, when he was fighting to save his job after the tabloid News of the World published details of Mosley`s sado-masochistic sex sessions with prostitutes, Bahrain`s crown prince made clear the Briton would not be welcome at the race.

"The focus quite rightly should be on the race. With great regret, I feel that under the current circumstances, it would be inappropriate for you to be in Bahrain at this time," the prince wrote in a letter, details of which were published in British newspapers at the time.

Mosley did not attend the race that year, with his spokesman saying he had been detained by legal matters.

Bureau Report

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