Top Tennis Stars Feel Pressure to Abstain from Saudi Exhibition

Roger Federer is being given props for turning down $1 million to participate in an exhibition planned for December in Saudi Arabia.

Our fingers nearly choked while typing that, but Federer can afford to be principled, as he may have turned down the juicy exhibition fee, but he has to date accepted over $US 118 million for his skill with racket and ball.

It would be as though we ourselves walked past a penny laying in the street because there was a dollar in our pocket. Do not bother telling us that Australia withdrew the penny in 1992, there are still some of them lying about and we would never willingly walk past one in the street.

Federer was taking a stand over the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who walked into the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, but never emerged.

But, he had received the offer over a year ago, saying, “They contacted me too, yeah. I didn’t want to play there at that time. So, for me, it was a very quick decision.”

International pressure is being brought to bear on Saudi Arabia and that has spread to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, with Amnesty International leading the charge.

Nadal’s response was, “Of course I’m aware of the situation. But I had a commitment since one year ago to play there.”

Said Djokovic, “We have the commitment with them for over a year, actually last year when we were discussing this potential matchup. It was my professional tennis decision to do that. Of course I know, I’m aware of what’s happening, and it’s sad, of course.”

It may be true that politics and religion make strange bedfellows, but the exact same can be said of politics and sports, as anyone who recalls the Olympic boycotts of 1980 and 1984 and in other years as well, will attest.