F1 boss claims races in Qatar and Saudi Arabia can help progression on human rights
Qatar will hold it's first ever grand prix this weekend
Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali believes that the new grands prix in Qatar and Saudi Arabia can help to make progression on human rights in the two countries.
Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been heavily criticised for their human rights records, but Domenicali - who is the CEO of Formula One Group - argues that "shutting countries off" would actually have a negative effect on the situation.
"Such an important change cannot happen overnight. It is a cultural change that will take time," said Domenicali.
"But the timing will be accelerated by the fact big events are there. And Formula 1 will play an important role in that respect."
This weekend will see Qatar hold its first ever grand prix, with Saudi Arabia following in two weeks' time.
The two races in the Gulf states mark another series of international sporting events that will be held in Middle Eastern countries.
The 2022 World Cup is set to be hosted in Qatar next year, which follows on from Anthony Joshua's heavyweight title bout with Anthony Ruiz taking place in Saudi Arabia in 2019.
Domenicali has revealed that Formula 1's contracts with Qatar and Saudi Arabia contain assurances that the respective countries must respect human rights in all aspects of their association with the sport, as per the BBC.
Should they not comply with the rules, F1 has the right to break its contract with them.
"If you look pragmatically at what they are doing, in terms of for example women, they have women in prominent positions in the organisation, they are working and respecting the regulations," Domenicali told the BBC.
"I believe the spotlight we are bringing will be beneficial for the will and the wishes of change that these countries are showing.
"I don't believe that shutting countries off and saying we don't want to be there will help the situation to improve. Actually, it will be the opposite.
"It doesn't mean everything is perfect, but for sure what we are doing and what we are signing off is headed in the right direction."
The 56-year-old Domenicali also stated that F1 had ensured independent auditors were monitoring the building of the new track in Saudi Arabia to ensure that workers' rights were being fully respected.
He added that Qatar and Saudi Arabia were 'already taking actions that backed up their claims to be serious about making changes in their societies'.
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