F1 and abject poverty: The truth about Baku


Just a stone’s throw away from where the Formula 1 circus rolled into town, thousands of people are dwelling in abject poverty.

Baku has an atrocious human rights record, but that isn’t all the capital of Azerbaijan is dealing with. A significant number of people living in the capital city are surviving on less than one dollar a day. All while motorsports’ richest show came to town. Hardly fair.

In 2015, a $6.5 billion project was completed as Baku hosted the European Games. Since then, many have been questioning where all of the revenue from the games have gone, as well as who benefited from hosting.

The organisers of the games also paid for the travel and accommodation expenses of all 6,000 athletes that competed in the events, a move heavily condemned by humans rights groups. Azerbaijan is renowned for a poor human rights record and endemic corruption.

So why did Formula 1 even risk hosting an event here when the country is considered unethical?

Was it merely another money-making move for Ecclestone and co, or did FOM see genuine possibilities to improve the prospects of the nation? The latter is considered unlikely.

In 1995, 68.1% of the country was living below the absolute poverty line. Whilst the figure has decreased since, the problem is still rife with the rich getting richer and the poor struggling even more.

According to adb.org, the country has a low average wage of AZN410.8 – as of mid-2013 – as well as increasing living costs.

As a result, the living wage is far below the average wage and therefore not adequate for satisfying basic needs. The current minimum wage is AZN125 and the cut-off point to receive social aid is AZN100, while the subsistence minimum level is AZN105.

In short, while many people could be lifted out of poverty, a considerable number of Azerbaijanis remain just below or above the poverty line. These people suffer from unemployment or underemployment and are particularly vulnerable to external influences, and these are vast in Azerbaijan.


The conditions of Baku – http://www.wordpress.com

Perhaps it is not surprising that Azerbaijan has one of the highest rates of displaced persons worldwide, equating to 6.5% of the total population. The main source of the displacement is Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which had made the wealth even more poorly distributed.

Unsurprisingly, the country has come under immense pressure from the likes of the UN to change. Unlike many impoverished countries – where foreign and media coverage can at least help alleviate difficulty  –Azerbaijan is an unknown quantity. Freedom of the press simply doesn’t exist, a relic of the autocratic grip that embraced the country during the Soviet occupation. This has harvested a culture where the hereditary despotic regime of the Aliyev dynasty has been allowed to subsist, largely unchallenged.

So there you have it, a cursory google scroll will unearth the severity of their human rights breaches, not to mention the extent of imprisoned journalists, dissidents and just about anyone with an opposing opinion.

The pinnacle of motorsport got underway while thousands of people were left stranded. Within metres of the race. Without anything.


8 responses to “F1 and abject poverty: The truth about Baku

  1. If F1 racing in Baku bothers you on the subject of human rights, then you should be up in arms over the races in China, Russia and Bahrain.

    • While you are absolutely correct that there are several races held in very unsavory, corrupt places, Baku is a particulary nasty example. Hopefully these relics of Ecclestones greed will slowly disappear from the calendar like Turkey has, but it may take some time. Indeed there may be several others added to this “Black List”. If things go on the way they are, the UK will not be far behind – a corrupt regime, buying itself into power, rewarding the rich, making the rest poorer with many on or below subsistence wages and having to live in squalid and dangerous housing – which the government has now said it will not pay to repair.

  2. Poor Countries Rely On Tourists For Survival – I Know, Because I Live In One Of Them.

    Using Several Sports Events, Trying To Put The Country On The Tourists Maps Can Only Be A Good Thing, In My Book.

    GO, 44 !

  3. I mean, sad as it is, what is new about it.
    A poor people’s tower block goes up in flames, empty mansions all around it, the homeless probably will get sent to a tent. No country is spared.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.