Following Formula 1’s recent announcement that next season will feature a race in Saudi Arabia, there has been uproar from social justice activists across the world saying this is an attempt by the country to cover up their history of human rights violations by ‘sportswashing’.

Saudi Arabia has a long history of violating human rights, with corporate punishment being ripe. Public flogging is a common punishment often used when people speak out with protests being banned and no free speech. Another violation often discovered in the kingdom is discrimination towards women, with women being banned from driving up until 2018 and harassed and intimidated for supporting a campaign against this rule, making it even more alarming that the world biggest motorsport has taken the decision to race in the country.

Recently, we have seen more and more instances of sportswashing across the world, this is a tactic often used by corrupt governments, to improve its countries reputation by hosting sporting events. Both the Russian World Cup in 2018 and the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Qatar are examples of this.

If major sporting organizations continue to allow corrupt countries to host their events in return for large pay cheques, not only will it damage the sports, it will enable countries to continue to break the rules regarding human rights so their oppression and tyranny can continue unchallenged.