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Where Have You Gone, Arthur Ashe? LIV Tour Golfers Need You.


Ah, the all-too-typical response. Imagine Ashe saying the identical thing when visiting Schwartzel’s homeland at the peak of its racist depravity. Cynics claim nobody has the high ground, so it makes little sense to combine sports with politics and human rights — as, as an illustration, Wimbledon did this yr when it barred Russian and Belarusian players due to their nations’ war against Ukraine.

A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf Series

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A recent series. The brand new Saudi-financed, controversy-trailed LIV Golf series held its first event in June. But what’s it? Who’s playing it? What’s all of the hubbub, and how are you going to watch it? Here’s what to know:

What’s LIV Golf? The series is an upstart skilled golf circuit bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. Its organizers hope to position it as a player-power-focused alternative to the PGA Tour, which has been the very best level of professional golf for nearly a century.

Who’s playing it? The 48 players within the initial LIV Golf event weren’t exactly a who’s who of golf, and plenty of of the most important names in the game, resembling Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, have stayed away. But there have been big names and former major champions, including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio García.

What’s attracting the players? The LIV Golf events are the richest tournaments in golf history. The primary tournament’s total purse was $25 million, and the winner’s share was $4 million. The last-place finisher at each event was guaranteed $120,000. That’s on top of the looks fees and nine-figure signing-on payouts some players have accepted.

How can I watch the brand new tour? Despite its high-profile golfers and its big-money backing, LIV Golf has not yet secured a broadcast rights agreement in the US and might be shown on lesser-watched streaming services in much of the world. In the US, this week’s tournament might be available via live streams on LIVGolf.com, YouTube and Facebook.

Nobody should accept that. Not once we’re talking about nations like Saudi Arabia, where “it’s the strategy of the state” to make use of sports to cover its abusive rights record, said Adam Coogle, a deputy director with the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch.

“Sportswashing,” because it has come to be known, has long been an unlucky fact of life. It’s why the Nazis hosted the 1936 Olympics, and China hosted the Summer Games in 2008 and the Winter Games in 2022. Vladimir V. Putin used athletic success to make Russia appear to be a decent member of the international community and a world force. Now we all know the fee.

The Saudis are still recent to this kind of high-stakes mirage making, but under Prince Mohammed’s de facto rule since 2016, they’re making up for lost time with sports and entertainment. Hence the hosting of Formula 1 races and skilled wrestling and soccer matches. Last yr, they bought the Premier League soccer club Newcastle United. Now they’re turning to golf, a sport beloved by corporate kingpins and the political class. In other words, the form of people whose decisions directly affect the desert kingdom.

Meantime, repression stays a fact of on a regular basis Saudi Arabian life. Saudi residents don’t enjoy the best to free assembly and association. The legal system isn’t independent. Due process is a farce. “There’s a complete lockdown of freedom of expression,” Coogle told me, speaking from Jordan last week over the phone. Saudis, he said, “will not be allowed to voice one little bit of criticism” toward the nation’s leadership.

To criticize, Coogle emphasized, is to risk detention, torture or death.

“With young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s rise to power, he promised an embrace of social and economic reform,” Khashoggi wrote in 2017. “He spoke of creating our country more open and tolerant.”

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