Sunday, 15 April 2012


Last weekends protesting swimmer at the Varsity Boat Race, this weekends Grand National, and next weekends controversial Bahrain Grand Prix have got me thinking about protesters using sport to make their point.

There is a long history of protest in sport, Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison throwing herself under the Kings horse at the 1913 Grand National must be the most famous, and perhaps most tragic of all incidents, but there have been many more recently.

The 1993 Grand National was not actually disrupted by protesters, but after 2 false starts officials failed to stop the race because some jockeys thought the red flags were being waved by protesters trying to stop the race. The race was voided. Only a few years later a phoned in warning from an Irish terrorist group meant that the Grand National was cancelled again, but this time was re-run on the Monday.

The Olympics are an obvious target for protests, but I can only actually think of two specific incidents, the events of Munich in 1972 where 17 people died, and the Atlanta bombing in 1996 where 2 people died. I vividly remember hearing the incident on the radio, and staying up well into the night listening to the events.

There are just 2 incidents I can think of in my chosen sport of Formula 1 (let me know if you can think of more!)

There was this crazy man at the German Grand Prix in 2000, I love Brundles comments in this clip...

And then there is the crazy priest who ran on track during the British Grand Prix in 2003. Sadly this idiot has become a mini celebrity in some circles, it should be the brave marshal who is the hero!

Lets hope that, if it does go ahead, next weekend Grand Prix is without incident, and that we can move on with the rest of the season and put the whole situation behind us.

To quote Joe Saward...
When it comes to propaganda, there is no question that both sides have been very busy in recent weeks, with the authorities finding people to say all the right things and the opposition trying to show that all is not good. The FIA, which is supposed not to involve itself in politics of any kind, has embraced the government argument, but as no-one inside the federation has questioned the activity (at least not openly), nothing has been done.

There is no doubt that there are people in Bahrain who honestly do believe that the race is what the country needs. Others (myself included) think that F1 is unwise to get involved at a time when things are unstable. 

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