Saudi Arabia’s Australian Cycling Deal Raises suspicions of Sportswashing

The Guardian revealed a sponsorship deal for an Australian cycling team. This will facilitate the sportswashing practiced by Saudi Arabia to cover its hideous crimes, according to the Guardian.

As the Guardian mentioned, the Australian cycling team, GreenEdge, announced a new major sponsor which is the royal commission for Al-‘Ula. It is a city in north-western Saudi Arabia and home to a world heritage site.

Top-tier professional cycling is an expensive sport, with large rider salaries and, thanks to the global racing calendar, enormous travel bills.

The Guardian added that in most advertisements, hardly such a sentiment would be surprising, the hyperbole may be forced, but this is a multi-million deal.

In 2018, BikeExchange’s then-general manager. Shayne Bannan said that the average budget of the team is about $28 million per year. For BikeExchange, he said, 90% came from sponsors.

BikeExchange has always been seeking new sponsors. Since its inception, the team has been owned and backed by the wealthy Australian businessman, Gerry Ryan.

According to the Guardian, Saudi Arabia’s interest in sponsoring the Australian cycling team is another attempt of sportswashing. A previous report revealed that the Saudi Arabian government spent at least $1.5 million on sportswashing.

It added that the Saudi monarchy restricts “almost all political rights and civil liberties”.

According to Freedom House, “the crown prince relies on extensive surveillance, the criminalization of dissent, appeals to sectarianism and ethnicity, and public spending supported by oil revenues to maintain power”.

Freedom House gave Saudi Arabia an overall score of 7/100 for political rights. This made it the second lowest-ranked country in the Middle East, after war-torn Syria.

Earlier, the Irish Times reported that Saudi Arabia is using “sportswashing” to whitewash their image and heinous crimes against humanity.


See also: Huge Fines on Several Saudi Clubs


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