Sports minister boycotts Israel tennis match


SA Minister of Sport and Recreation Thulas Nxesi boycotted the Davis Cup tie between South Africa and Israel due to South Africa’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The match took place between 2 and 3 February at the Irene Country Club in Centurion. The Davis Cup is a tournament between men’s national tennis teams.

This was after pressure from various civil organisations such as the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, SA Jews for a Free Palestine, Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA) and the National Coalition for Palestine South Africa (NC4P) to boycott the event. In a letter to the above mentioned organizations, Nxesi cited the Human Sciences Research Council who described the treatment of Israel towards Palestine as apartheid behaviour.

Nxesi also shared his personal experiences while he was in Israel saying “I myself have experienced Israeli discrimination and occupation when I was denied to Palestine in 2012.” Besides Nxesi’s personal experience, other well-known South Africans have encountered such harsh treatment from Israeli, the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The Tennis South Africa expects and believe that the objective of the competition which is to grow the tennis sport without discrimination will be respected. They issued a statement on the boycotting issue they said, “We look forward to a weekend of high quality tennis, and wish our team the best of luck as they begin their campaign to try and win promotion to the Davis Cup world group.” Nxesi says he would have loved to attend the Davis cup, but given the concerns that activists and South Africans have raised, Nxesi believes that it would not be proper for him to attend.

The minister of sports and recreation is strongly standing behind the idea to boycott the tie, and in the letter Nxesi issued he concluded by quoting Nelson Mandela who said, “our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of Palestinian people.” BDS South Africa, welcomed Nxesi’s decision.


Image: Sally Hartzenberg

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