Skip to main content

Cameron Norrie has been warned he is being ‘passively used in a sportswashing jamboree’ after he signed up to play a tournament in Saudi Arabia next month.

Norrie will join Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Andrey Rublev and Stan Wawrinka at the Diriyah Tennis Cup in December, where they will compete for a $3m prize pot.

It is a huge amount of money for an exhibition event, but consistent with the Saudi state’s attempts to use sports to draw attention away from their poor record of human rights abuse, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the request of Saudi Crown Price Mohammed bin Salman.

Amnesty International has long been critical of Saudi Arabia’s sportswashing policy, that has included buying Premier League football club Newcastle United and starting a LIV Golf Invitational Tour, and their UK head of priority campaigns Felix Jenkins has not publicly criticised Britain’s number one tennis player for allowing himself to be a part of it.

“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,” Jakens said.

“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.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

“Earlier this year, 81 people were executed in a single day in Saudi Arabia, we’ve recently seen Twitter users like the Leeds student Salma al-Shehab given huge jail sentences, and there’s been no accountability for the shocking murder of Jamal Khashoggi.”

Andy Murray has previously said he would never play a tournament in Saudi Arabia on account of their human rights issue, but Jakens believes it is okay to play – as long as you use the platform to speak up as well.

“We’d like to see any player who agrees to compete in Diriyah refusing to be passively used for sportswashing by speaking out on human right issues – not least by calling for the release of people like Salma al-Shehab,” he Jakens added.

“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 has a big platform and genuine influence, and he should use this to speak out and show solidarity with people like Al-Shehab who are being cruelly persecuted in Saudi Arabia.”

Please follow Tennisbuzz on Twitter and Instagram, and you can like us on Facebook by clicking here.

For more exclusive content from Tennisbuzz, including news, features, trivia, promotions and more, please be sure to bookmark our home page.