'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Oh no Bernie. Not that old excuse again.

Plenty of people have joined in the condemnation of the decision to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix, one of the nuttier and shameful sporting decisions I've ever heard about, so I won't add to the weight of opinion shouting THIS IS JUST PLAIN WRONG. And it seems the teams are now refusing to take part anyway, so this issue may have been resolved (though I see the teams are refusing to race for logistical, not ethical, reasons. Which is a shame in itself)

But it does give me a chance to vent a little about that tired old cliche people keep trotting out that 'you shouldn't mix politics and sports'. Or as Bernie Ecclestone put it last week,

"We've never, ever, ever been involved in religion or politics, It's not for us to run a country."

That might come as a surprise to anyone who remembers this incident in the early part of the Blair government and finished with Tony Blair stating that he was ' a pretty straight kind of guy'. Which looking back is fairly ironic...

But OF COURSE sport and politics are inextricable linked

Let's not forgetl David Cameron in Switzerland touting for votes as England bid for the 2018 World Cup. Or Tony Blair in Singapore on the Olympic bid? How would the FA and the BOA have felt if are Prime Ministers had shaken their heads, and said, sorry, not our bag? When South Africa won the right to host the 2010 World Cup, FIFA asked them to change their country's constitution - and they duly obliged...

We have a Minister for Sport and the Olympics; we subsidise sports across the country. We are pouring money into the Olympics. Sport is used to exert a country's influence in the world - be it to promote pride in a nations achievements (Australia) or to justify a political regime (East Germany).

And you know something? I'm all for mixing politics and sport.

There are economic benefits, as this report demonstrates. And while we remain to see how it all shakes out, there are potentially huge legacy benefits to hosting The Olympics.

There are health benefits. The public subisdy we give organisations like Sport England get kids and adults more active, making them healthier, extending life expectancy, and if you really want everything to be about money, reducing healthcare costs in the long term.

Sport encourages a sense of self worth, of achievement, gives kids targets and goals, and encourages a sense of team work (in those playing it ) and community (in those watching it). I love it when the country comes together for a major sporting event.

Oh. And sport is fun. And life's just a bit too serious.

So I'm ALL for politics being part of sport.

I just get tired of sports men and women - who have often been in receipt at some point in their lives of public funding to support them - who now want to make a quick buck by, say, touring a a country with an appalling human rights record or a regime that is an affront to the world (South Africa under Apartheid springs to mind) telling me that sport and politics don't mix.

Because in fact they're inextricably linked.


  1. Completely agree, though South Africa hoasted the 2010 World Cup not the 2006 ;-)

  2. Ha! Doh, thanks! have amended!!

  3. I even went to the 2006 World Cup...you'd think i'd have noticed....