Bahrain Grand Prix: Human rights group writes to F1 about 'ongoing concerns' over 'sportswashing'

    Drivers compete in last year's Bahrain Grand Prix, which has been on the F1 calendar since 2004.

    (CNN)A prominent human rights group has written to Formula One CEO Stefano Domenicali to raise serious concerns over what it claims is the sport's ongoing role in "sportswashing" ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

    The new season gets underway in Bahrain on March 5, ahead of which the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) has urged F1 and the FIA, motorsport's governing body, not to "sportswash the blood-soaked images" of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which hosts a race on March 19.
    "Sportswashing" refers to governments using high-profile sporting events to project a favorable image of their country around the world, often to draw attention away from alleged wrongdoing.
      "Despite horrific human rights records, both states enjoy generous F1 contracts and exploit the F1 platform to sanitize their image on the world stage, while thousands of political prisoners languish behind bars," Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, BIRD's Advocacy Director, said in a statement commenting on the letter on Monday.