Is the Ironman Triathlon Becoming a Sport for Dictators?

December 4, 2015

By Peter Bogdanich

December 4, 2015

This Saturday, the U.S. triathlon promoter Ironman will hold its first competition in the Middle East. But by choosing Bahrain as its host, Ironman is teaming up with a royal family that has arrested top athletes and thousands of others who called for political reforms.

Bahrain_map_-_2 (1)Ironman’s half-marathon “Middle East Championship” is set for December 5th in Bahrain, an island monarchy located off the coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf. The local partner for the event, Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa, is a prince who stands accused of calling for and overseeing the arrest of major Bahraini athletes who participated in demonstrations for democracy and reform.

In February of 2011, thousands of Bahrainis took to the streets of the capital city to call for democratic reforms in largely peaceful protests. Security forces responded with tanks, tear gas, and live ammunition. Dozens of peaceful protesters were killed, and thousands were subjected to arbitrary arrest.


2011 Bahrain protests. Photo by Lewa’a Alnasr.

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Thank ESPN.

November 14, 2011

ESPN has done a hard-hitting piece on Bahraini athletes who were allegedly tortured because they protested against their US-backed dictatorship.

The 12-minute video is worth watching:


Not only does the video talk about the crackdown on protestors, but it also reports on the US military alliance with Bahrain’s dictatorship. ESPN even covers the pending $53 million US arms sale to the Bahraini government — as well as Congressional efforts to stop that sale.

Please take a moment to thank ESPN for this important piece.

We will send a formal thank-you letter to ESPN that includes your name.