Boycott TV coverage of the Ad Diriyah E-Prix
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Formula E is an electric racing car championship that held it's first race in Beijing back in 2014. It has since gone from strength to strength, attracting some of the best drivers and staff working in motorsport today, as well as iconic manufacturers like Audi, Jaguar, Nissan, Porsche and Mercedes. On top of this it has managed to secure street races in renowned city centres around the world, such as Hong Kong, Paris, Berlin, Zurich, and New York.
However, Formula E confirmed on the 17th of May, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, that the next season will start on December 15th 2018 with a race in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. A city which awards the death penalty to homosexuals and has appalling LGBT rights, women's rights and human rights records. Not only have they bombed innocent civilians in Yemen and created what the UN described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis, this is a regime which still publicly executes it's own people under Sharia law; it's abhorrent and completely contrary to the family-friendly and progressive values of Formula E, which we have seen it consistently promote since it's inception. Let's also not forget the regime's antisemitism, lack of freedom of the press, and it's recent history of human trafficking and slavery.
Although women have been specifically permitted to work at the event, there are still major limits on what women can and can't do. It remains a thoroughly patriarchal society, despite lifting the ban on driving last year, the behaviour of women is very strictly enforced.
Just as with the Race of Champions that the city hosted back in February, hosting Formula E in Riyadh distracts the international media from the abuses of the regime, and allows the crown prince to present himself as a progressive leader, rather than a murderous dictator. What does it say about Formula E and it's CEO Alejandro Agag that they are so delighted to partner up with this regime and do their PR work for them?
As much as I love Formula E for it's competitive racing and promotion of sustainable clean energy and cutting-edge technology, I cannot sit by and watch this race take place on the same streets where citizens have been beheaded for their sexual orientations and religious beliefs. It would be unfair to ask teams and drivers to boycott the event and compromise their championship chances and their careers; that's not a choice they should ever have to make.
Instead I call upon as many TV broadcasters as possible to boycott showing live coverage of the event, and additionally I call upon fans to sign this petition and not watch any live coverage of the Riyadh E-Prix. This will clearly demonstrate that broadcasters and Formula E fans worldwide do not want to tacitly endorse the Saudi regime, and hopefully the stream of negative PR and the drop in viewing figures will have the desired effect of ultimately convincing Formula E to break their 10 year contract with Riyadh and to not to return for future seasons. It's my view that we must draw a line in the sand and use our power as fans of the sport to save it from itself; because we know that Formula E can and has done so much better than this.
In addition to signing this petition, please consider reaching out to either Formula E or your local FE broadcaster to voice your displeasure, although I do advise you remain as civil and respectful as possible for obvious reasons. In the UK it is being broadcast online by BBC Sport on the Red Button, BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website, as well as by YouTube sport.
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