Roger Federer has turned down an offer to play in an exhibition event on December 22 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The move comes at a time when the country is facing immense pressure from the international community for the murder of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.
While Federer has turned down the invitation, other stars like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have expressed their doubts over their participation but have not formally withdrawn.
Saudi Arabia is facing massive pressure following the killing of Khashoggi, a columnist for Washington Post on October 2 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. News reports claim that Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside. Turkey has alleged that a hit squad from Saudi Arabia travelled to Istanbul to kill the journalist and then cover it up.
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Speaking ahead of the Paris Masters tournament, Federer said it was a very quick decision for him. “They contacted me, too. I didn’t want to play there at that time,” Federer said.
Looking for clarity
While Federer has made his stance clear, Nadal and Djokovic are adopting a wait-and-watch approach before they make the final decision.
“I’m aware of the situation. But I had a commitment since one year ago to play there. And my team is talking to them, to analyze the things. That’s it,” Nadal said.
Like Nadal, Djokovic also had a commitment since one year to feature in the event.
“It was my professional tennis decision to do that. Of course I know, I’m aware of what’s happening. Right now, we don’t have enough information. We have to look into that a bit more and then we’ll make our decision soon,” Djokovic said.
Amnesty International have urged both Nadal and Djokovic to not play in the event in Jeddah.
Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are all part of the Paris Masters, the second-last tournament of 2018 before the year-ending ATP World Tour finals which will be held in London.