How Bahrain uses sport to whitewash a legacy of torture and human rights abuses | David Conn

Campaign groups argue that Bahrain’s association with glamour sport is used to ‘launder’ a more wholesome image for the country

The cyclist Sonny Colbrelli secured prominent exposure for the name of his Bahrain Merida team early in the Tour de France, heading the group sprint at the end of the second stage in Liège before finishing a creditable sixth. The team’s leader, Ion Izagirre, crashed out on the first day, but Bahrain Merida has already established itself on the world tour, after star signing Vincenzo Nibali competed through three spectacular weeks in May to claim a third place finish in the Giro d’Italia.

The cycling team, launched in January with an estimated £13.7m budget by Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa, a son of the ruling King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, is the latest venture which will help promote the autocratically ruled, troubled country through an association with globally televised sporting events.

According to experts appointed by the UN, Bahrain forces used “excessive, lethal force to disperse peaceful protestors”

Bahrain’s harnessing of sport has helped deflect attention from reports of tortured detainees and death sentences

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Source: Formula 1

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