Amnesty International cites ‘unmistakable irony’ of women’s pro golf in a country with an ‘abysmal human-rights record’
Opposed: By Amnesty International, the Ladies European Tour’s recent announcement to play two tournaments in Saudi Arabia. “With leading Saudi women’s-rights activists currently languishing behind bars, there’s an unmistakable irony to the spectacle of Saudi Arabia throwing open its heavily-watered greens to the world’s leading women golfers like this,” Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, told London’s The Guardian for a report published Tuesday. The LET said Monday that it will play two tournaments in an eight-day span in November in the kingdom. The men’s European Tour also plays annually in Saudi Arabia, with American stars such as Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson accepting seven-figure appearance fees to compete. Amnesty International and other critics have called the Saudi overture to golf part of a “sportswashing” effort to distract from the kingdom’s “abysmal human-rights record.” The spotlight on the ruling Saudi regime intensified with the slaying of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi national and outspoken critic of the nation’s leaders, two years ago at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. “Every golfer considering whether to compete in Saudi Arabia ought to take a proper look at the human-rights situation in the country and be prepared to speak out,” Allen said. The LET will pay the $1 million Aramco Saudi Ladies International on Nov. 12-15, followed by the $500,000 Saudi Ladies Team International on Nov. 17-19. Both events will be held at Royal Greens Golf Club on the Red Sea Coast, near Jeddah. “We are always looking to grow the game in new markets and add to our schedule,” said Alexandra Armas, the LET’s chief executive, “and we are confident that the Saudi Ladies International and the Saudi Ladies Team International will be a fantastic experience for our players.”
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