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Hamilton demands Qatar and Saudi Arabia "scrutiny" over human rights records

Hamilton demands Qatar and Saudi Arabia "scrutiny" over human rights records

Hamilton demands Qatar and Saudi Arabia "scrutiny" over human rights records

Hamilton demands Qatar and Saudi Arabia "scrutiny" over human rights records
Ian Parkes & Ewan Gale

Lewis Hamilton has called for Qatar and Saudi Arabia to be scrutinised over their human rights records, believing he and F1 have been "unconscious" to issues in the past.

F1 marks its inaugural visit to Qatar this weekend and Saudi Arabia in a fortnight as the championship concludes in the Middle East for the showdown between Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

The sport has been criticised for allocating calendar space to such countries, with Qatar, in particular, being held accountable for its handling of migrant workers deployed to assist in construction work ahead of football's World Cup next year.

Asked for his thoughts on the situation and whether it was correct for F1 to be racing in the country, Hamilton replied: "It is a difficult one to speak on. Ultimately, as drivers, it is not our choice where we get to go and race.

"I do feel that we are aware there are issues in these places we are going to, as there are around the world but, of course, it is deemed to be one of the worst in this part of the world.

"As these sports go to these places, they are duty-bound to raise awareness of these issues. These places need scrutiny and need the media to speak about these things.

"Equal rights is a serious issue.

"However, I am aware this place [Qatar] is trying to take steps. You cannot change overnight and there are things like a new reforming with the Kafala system that was in place a couple of years ago but there is still a long way to go.

"I just feel like if we are coming to these places, we need to be raising the profile of the situation."

Hamilton hoping for other sports stars to add voices

Hamilton is one of only a handful of high-profile stars from across all sporting arenas to actively speak out on societal issues, whether his words are tackling problems surrounding human rights, the environment or racism.

On whether he hoped others would join him in raising awareness of such issues, the seven-time champion said: "I do. One person can only make a small amount of difference but together, collectively, we can have a bigger impact.

"Do I wish that more sportsmen and women spoke out on these issues? Yes. But the fact is, it is also, again, education. It takes time to go out and learn more about a region that is foreign to us.

"We are not from these areas, it is incredibly complex on the ground in these places with religion and with the complexity. It is difficult to even understand them all.

"What is important is that we still try to bring awareness to some of these problems and whilst there are some changes that have been made over time, it is never enough.

"More needs to be done and I just know that as a sport, we have been to, and I have been to, a lot of these countries and been ignorant and unconscious to some of the problems in some of the places.

"It is down to whether you decide to educate yourself and hold the sport more accountable and make sure the sport is actually doing something accountable in those places. That is why I have decided to raise my voice.

"There are far brighter people who are more knowledgable about these issues that are trying to fight them in the background but I still think we can bring a spotlight to it and create that scrutiny and pressure that hopefully will create change."

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