Roger Federer Refuses To Play Exhibition Match In Saudi Arabia Following Khashoggi Murder

Roger Federer at the 2018 Shanghai Masters
Kevin Lee / Getty Images

Following the major international fallout from the brutal murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Swiss tennis star Roger Federer has announced he will not be participating in an exhibition match scheduled in the Saudi port city of Jeddah in December.

Press TV reports that Federer was doubtful about his continued involvement in the exhibition after allegations that the Saudi government ordered and carried out the murder of the Washington Post columnist on October 2 in the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

On Tuesday, he confirmed that he would no longer take part in the match, despite it being scheduled over a year ago and despite the large payday promised to him for his involvement in the exhibition.

“I prefer not to play. I’m happy practicing. I’m happy doing other things, and I didn’t want to play there at that time. So, for me, it was a very quick decision.”

The Swiss national signed the contract to take part in 2017 and stood to make seven figures from the exhibition match, but he has made it clear he has no problem breaking that contract given the strife in the country and the international outrage that was sparked over Khashoggi’s death.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are the other two stars who are supposed to be part of the exhibition in Jeddah, but according to the Sydney Morning Herald, Djokovic is also reconsidering his involvement, although he has yet to confirm his withdrawal.

As a press conference in Paris on Tuesday, Nadal made a statement that didn’t exactly confirm he would still take part in the exhibition.

“I had a commitment since one year to play there. I know something happened very bad inside there. So we are looking about how the situation evolves and I hope the things will clarify as soon as possible.”

Djokovic also said a few words, stating that he doesn’t like to get involved with politics and that the exhibition had formed part of his training regime for the upcoming 2019 season.

“It’s unfortunate that we are both drawn into this right now. I’m aware of what’s happening and it’s sad. I’ve always been trying to be very professional and respectful towards people I have commitments with. We have to get more information on what’s happening so we can make a rational decision.”

Major global organizations such as Amnesty International have warned that if Nadal and Djokovic go ahead with the planned match, which is being sponsored by the Saudi government, they will lend credibility to an embattled regime.