Bahrain Grand Prix: Formula One demeans itself with this event
The kingdom of is a repressive regime that has jailed and killed citizens who campaign for the reform of its monarchy. In Shia villages in the minority Sunni-led state, which was propped up by last year's intervention by Saudi troops, protests continue daily.
Only last week, Shia villages were attacked by supporters of the regime with knives and sticks. And while it is true that the country's ruling family commissioned a critical report into the violence of last year, it is also a fact that despite promising reform the regime has reneged on most of its promises while the perpetrators of abuses in its security services have gone largely unpunished.
You might think, in these circumstances, that a leading international sport and those who represent it might feel a little queasy about being asked to stage an event in Bahrain that is already being used by the regime to whitewash what happened last spring and the abuses that are still occurring.
But the "sport" we are talking about is , whose administrating body, the FIA, announced last week that it is "safe" for the Bahrain Grand Prix to go ahead next Sunday, even though last year's was cancelled in the midst of the bloody government crackdown.
The reality is that Formula One is not really much like other sports or, indeed, much like a sport at all.
Instead, the business, owned by venture capital firm CVC and run by on its behalf, more routinely demonstrates the worst aspects of global corporate culture than the best of the Corinthian ideals.
It consists of a too-cosy arrangement of rich teams, super-wealthy "athletes" – if they can be called such – sponsors and grand prix-staging countries whose interest is more about the bottom line and prestige than competition.
Unwilling to upset Bahrain's royal family – which owns 40% of the McLaren team – the cynical manoeuvres to justify holding the Bahrain Grand Prix have become ever more shoddy.
That has included Bahrain's employment, as a consultant, of former Metropolitan Police chief John Yates who dutifully wrote to the FIA's administrator, Jean Todt, to say he felt "safer" living in Bahrain than London and blamed protests on a "criminal" minority.
The reality, however, as It added: "Despite the authorities' claims to the contrary, state violence against those who oppose the Al Khalifa family rule continues, and in practice, not much has changed in the country since the brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters in February and March 2011."
Perhaps it is too much to expect Ecclestone, who has enriched himself hugely out of Formula One, to show a moral backbone. But the drivers, sponsors and team owners who participate should consider that they will be giving cover to a violently human rights-abusing regime by their participation and will be seen by many Bahrainis and others as accomplices in those continuing abuses. We can act, too, by not watching. Because sport – despite the protestations of Formula One's paid lobbyists – is not divorced from the moral world and this event, and Bahrain's continuing behaviour, demands our disapproval.