Saudi Arabia announced Tuesday the organization in December of the first international tennis exhibition on its soil, a year after an unsuccessful attempt in the wake of the scandal related to the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Before the Dakar, tennis: the kingdom, which will host the rally race in January 2020, relies on this tournament (12-14 December) to eight players, including triple Grand Slam tournament winner Stanislas Wawrinka, to continue the development of his sports diplomacy.
"Welcoming for the first time a world-class international tennis exhibition is another decisive moment for the kingdom," Prince Abdelaziz bin Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, president of the Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia, said in a statement ( GSA).
Failing to receive the magic trio Federer-Nadal-Djokovic, several major players of the ATP circuit are announced: the Russian Daniil Medvedev (4th), the Italian Fabio Fognini (12th), the Belgian David Goffin (14th) and therefore the Swiss Wawrinka (20th).
The three-day, three million dollar (EUR 2.74 million) three-day exhibition is planned for Dariya, a suburb of capital Riyadh. This fall, this small town will be the scene of several sporting events, including an E-Prix electric formula (November 22) and the boxing fight between the British heavyweight Anthony Joshua and American Andy Ruiz Jr for the titles IBF, WBA and WBO (December 7)
In August, the announcement of Saudi Arabia's choice for the fight sparked the ire of human rights defenders, who denounced the war waged since 2015 by Ryad in Yemen - at the head of a coalition-- and the assassination in October 2018 of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
On October 2, 2018, this journalist critical of Saudi power was killed and then dismembered in the consulate of his country in Istanbul by a Saudi commando. His body has never been found.
Among the many consequences of this assassination, the first attempt to organize an international tennis tournament in December 2018 had failed.
By sparking an international outcry, the Khashoggi affair has thwarted the openness strategy advocated by powerful Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, which aims to reduce the dependence of the ultra-conservative kingdom on oil.
Ryad started to issue tourist visas at the end of September. Until then, he only issued visas to pilgrims, expatriates and, recently, to spectators of sporting events or cultural events.
© 2019 AFP