Posts Tagged ‘tennis’

Saudi sports washing continues with tennis exhibition

November 11, 2022

The Guardian of 9 November 2022 reports on the Diriyah Tennis Cup which is a ‘sport swashing’ event according to Amnesty UK

Cameron Norrie and other top men’s players appearing at the Diriyah Tennis Cup in Saudi Arabia have been urged by Amnesty International to use their platforms to speak out against the country’s human rights abuses. “Everyone playing in Diriyah will surely realise that this tennis tournament is yet another example of Saudi Arabia trying to sportswash its bloody human rights record,” said Amnesty International in a statement.

With Saudi Arabia currently throwing sizeable bundles of money at everything from golf and Grand Prix to boxing and football, it’s really important that top sporting figures use their high profiles to speak out about Saudi human rights abuses.” See e.g. https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/sports-washing/

Novak Djokovic in action during the Paris Masters.

The exhibition tournament Diriyah Tennis Cup represents Saudi Arabia’s latest attempt to enter the world of professional tennis. There has been interest from the country in hosting an officially sanctioned Women’s Tennis Association event, which the WTA has not yet pursued. A slew of current and former top players have already committed to the lucrative exhibition in December during the short off-season, including Norrie, who is the British No 1, Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev of Russia, Alexander Zverev of Germany, Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland and Austria’s Dominic Thiem. The inaugural edition was held in December 2019, which also featured Medvedev and Wawrinka.

In a statement, Norrie said “I’m not a politician and I don’t feel it’s right for me to get involved with individual government politics,” said Norrie. Amnesty International UK’s Felix Jakens suggested Norrie and others could use their presence in Saudi Arabia to show solidarity with Salma al-Shehab, the Leeds University student jailed for 34 years there for using Twitter.

We were never going to be telling people like Cameron Norrie where they should or shouldn’t play tennis, but by appearing in Diriyah Cameron should realise he’s effectively being deliberately hired in to take part in the latest jamboree of Saudi sportswashing,” said Jakens. “Cameron has a big platform and genuine influence, and he should use this to show solidarity with people like Salma al-Shehab who are being cruelly persecuted in Saudi Arabia. What Saudi Arabia appears to look for with these competitions is a smiling high-profile sports star who will studiously avoid talking about human rights – Cameron should speak out.”

Up to seven-figure appearance fees have been offered to some top tennis players since the inaugural event in 2019, but not all have entertained them. Matt Gentry, Andy Murray’s agent, revealed at the beginning of the year that he had turned down an offer to compete in the 2019 edition, which Murray echoed at Wimbledon.

“I know a number of the other guys on the tour were offered to play there. I don’t think the player field that went was what they were hoping. A lot of the, I would say, top players and bigger names turned it down. And I personally wouldn’t go and play there,” said Murray.

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2022/nov/09/diriyah-tennis-cup-cameron-norrie-amnesty-human-rights-sportswashing

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have a chance to score a point for human rights defenders

October 19, 2018

There may  be still a few people who think that human rights and sports are, or should be, separate worlds but that is pipe dream. [just dee some of these earlier posts: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/sports-and-politics/].

Now Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have been urged to use an upcoming exhibition match in Saudi Arabia as an opportunity to lend their support to human rights causes. The world’s top-two ranked players will square off against one another at Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City on 22 December 2018.

While the world is asking itself literally whether Saudi Arabia will get away with the murder of dissident journalist.Jamal Khashoggi, the two tennis players have both said they’re looking forward to visiting the country for the first time – with both men set to pocket more than $1-million for the match.

Amnesty International says the pair’s visit provides a perfect opportunity for the global stars to lend their support to an important cause. “It’s not for us to say which countries should and shouldn’t be hosting sporting competitions, but it’s also clear that countries like Saudi Arabia are well aware of the potential for sport to subtly ‘rebrand’ a country,” Allan Hogarth of Amnesty International told the Times.  “Tweeting support for Saudi Arabia’s brave human rights defenders would be a start.”

On it is not just Khashoggi. For the second time since July, UN human rights experts are calling on Saudi Arabia to “immediately and unconditionally” release all women human rights defenders, including six imprisoned on charges relating to their peaceful defence of human rights. The detained have been charged for being involved in pro-democracy demonstrations, and previously campaigning for the right of women to vote and drive. In late June 2018, a long-standing ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia, was lifted by royal decree, UN News reports.

In a statement on October 12, the group of nine independent experts has condemned the actions of the Saudi authorities in continuing to detain the women rights defenders, “in the strongest possible terms,” calling for their “immediate and unconditional” release.

A group of those indicted – Samar Badawi, Nassima Al-Sadah, Nouf Abdulaziz, Mayya Al-Zahrani, and Hatoon Al-Fassi – are being held in detention, without any channels of communication. The five were particularly active in demonstrations for women’s rights. The group of women also include Israa Al-Ghomghan, who faces possible execution despite being denied representation during her trial, and is being tried in Riyadh’s Specialized Criminal Court, an entity set up for terrorism-related cases.


https://au.sports.yahoo.com/djokovic-nadal-issued-plea-controversial-clash-230456949.html?guccounter=1

https://socialistworker.org/2018/10/15/will-the-saudi-regime-get-away-with-murder

The United Nations human rights office (OHCHR) on July 31, 2018 called on Saudi Arabia to “unconditionally” release all those being held.

https://www.indepthnews.net/index.php/the-world/middle-east-north-africa/2217-un-urges-saudi-arabia-to-release-all-incarcerated-women-human-rights-defenders