It’s a rivalry we love between two tennis legends–just being played in the wrong place at the wrong time. On October 7, it was announced that Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal would be playing an exhibition; it was a match we were all looking forward to. However, with the recent controversy surrounding Saudi Arabia and the scrutiny regarding human rights, the two players must break the silence.
Looking forward to playing and visiting this beautiful country. Thank you for the invitation, see you guys soon! https://t.co/0ZgSLnLgQu
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) October 8, 2018
The backlash comes after the alleged killing of Jamal Khashoggi. The journalist from Saudi Arabia was a critic of his country’s regime. He opposed the royal family and even the intervention in Yemen. As a result, the Saudi government banned him from social media. This was so they could prevent him from sharing his views, causing Khashoggi to go into self-imposed exile. At the start of the month, the journalist went to his home country’s consulate to obtain wedding documents. However, he never exited the building and has now been reported missing. This has caused Turkish outrage and the Saudi government have faced accusations of planning the assassination.
Furthermore, there are many questions regarding the human rights in Saudi Arabia, especially about women. It was only last year that women were allowed to drive, and it appears as if there is still a long way to go. Earlier this year, five protesters who were campaigning for women’s rights were put on trial–including the first woman in Saudi Arabia to face the death penalty. Despite their peaceful protests, they were tried for terrorism. Yet, Saudi Arabia considers themselves a “modern” country.
What Nadal and Djokovic must do
Both men are massive supporters of the WTA and the female players. They have stood for equal prize money for both genders and helped to make the women’s tour more popular. Their help has been beneficial, but this is their chance to help solve a real world problem. Instead of sitting back and waiting for the storm to pass by, they should be proactive and voice their opinions.
Novak and Rafael have amazing reputations and are loved across the globe. This means that sharing their opinions would do a world of good. People would certainly listen to them and it would allow many more people to hear about the issues in Saudi Arabia. Both have done lots of charity work and even helped with the recent flooding in Mallorca–which raises the question of why they can’t do anything in Saudi Arabia.
Their politeness needs to stop now. Instead of saying how excited they are to travel there in December, they need to be honest. Djokovic and Nadal have big hearts and they must have heard of what has happened. They can’t remain silent.