Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton will be competing at the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend. The confirmation comes after it has been widely speculated that he will join other black athletes who have been boycotting competitions in response to the Jacob Blake shooting in the United States. Hamilton has been a very outspoken advocate of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
As the only black driver in Formula One, Hamilton has been very vocal about his call for diversity in the sport. He has also been known to speak out about Formula One's efforts or lack thereof, to speak up about racial inequality during the height of the George Floyd protests.
However, despite numerous walkouts and boycotts from black athletes in the United States, Hamilton has decided to race at Spa Francorchamps this weekend. Even though the George Floyd incident also took place in the US and he protested while in Europe, he now feels that boycotting the race in Belgium will have little effect on the protests. This is of course after he had been firm on his stance that F1 should allow sufficient airtime to show him and other drivers as they kneel in protest ahead of previous races in support of the call to end racism.
According to The Guardian, Hamilton said that "So many people are standing with the players and pushing for change it's a shame that's what's needed over there in order to get a reaction. But that is in America and I don't know if me doing anything here will particularly have any effect. We are in Belgium not in the United States."
Former US Open champion Naomi Osaka had pulled out of her semi-final match at the Western and Southern Open in New York as a form of protest. As a result, the tournament has suspended play on Thursday, as a show of solidarity towards the cause.
In the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks refused to leave the locker room, which resulted in a postponement of playoff matches. Similar boycotts have been staged at the WNBA and MLS.
Meanwhile, Hamilton has stated that he will speak with F1 management to see what more could be done to support his advocacy.