With the sun setting behind the traces of the historic city of Diriyah, which witnessed the birth of the first Saudi state, boxers gathered with their team members, local dignitaries and media people to hold a press conference before an upcoming boxing match described as “historic.”
This gathering took place on the roof of a luxurious guesthouse in the outskirts of Riyadh earlier this week in an easy-to-forget scene, without forgetting the reasons why this match – which had already been held between British heavyweight champions Anthony Joshua and American Andy Ruiz Jr. in Riyadh – One of the most controversial sporting events recently.
The scene is especially tempted to think of this exciting story behind one of Britain’s brightest boxing stars to participate in “The Shield of Shield” in order to save his career and recover from the previous defeat in front of the same opponent.
It is natural for one to admire the size of the huge entertainment complex, which will see the first heavyweight title in the Middle East.
It is also natural to be surprised by the speed with which the open arena on which the match will be played was built, and that work began from scratch.
Not to mention the extraordinary ambition shown by local organizers, who insist that these events are specially designed to enhance the value of activity for people, support tourism and stimulate the pace of modernization and modernity.
From the Olympic Games in China, to the World Cup in FIFA in Russia and Qatar, to the European Championship final in Azerbaijan, and the Formula 1 race in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi – all countries that have long been accused of hosting sporting events to beautify the image of their systems externally and distract their suspicious records from Human rights, as a form of “soft power”.
Boxing is not the only sport in this respect. There are Formula E cars, ATP, WWE and wrestling competition, and the Italian Super Cup, all competitions held in Saudi Arabia that pump tens of billions of pounds in the sector Sports currently.
It is unbelievable that only next month in Saudi Arabia will witness the establishment of major sporting events such as the Dakar Rally for cars, the Spanish Super Cup, the organization of the first international tournaments in the Kingdom of tennis, an equestrian festival, and the Saudi International Golf Professional Championship.
But some express their dissatisfaction with the holding of a boxing match between Joshua and Royce, among a long list of other sporting events, for nothing but to attract attention to the place.
“The whole world is following this event unlike the previous sporting events,” says Flex Jackins of Amnesty International. “Perhaps this is the highest peak in every ‘beautification of the image through sport’ being conducted by Saudi Arabia.”
He continues, “There is a reason why this conflict is taking place in Saudi Arabia – the authorities’ keenness to embellish its internationally distorted image … which is understandable justification, given the country’s horrific record of homosexuals, women’s rights, and extrajudicial killings, and executions.” Beheading, killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year, and getting involved in the conflict in Yemen. ”
“We are not saying that Anthony Joshua should not play in Saudi Arabia. But while he is there, he should use his popularity to talk about the situation in the country and raise the issue of human rights,” he says.
When I brought it up to Joshua earlier this week, he defended his decision to come to Saudi Arabia and insisted that he should focus on the fight, but added, “In the future, I may carry a different slogan.”
Some may see Joshua as “naive,” saying that he would “undoubtedly be harassed” if it is used to contribute to improving the image of this country, especially given the approximately $ 79 million in profits expected from this conflict.
But others consider it unfair that the sport of boxing does not benefit from Saudi Arabia’s huge funds while the British government is rushing to sell billions of dollars in arms to this country.
As for the official for the promotion of this match, Eddie Hearn, he took a different course when asked about his presence in Saudi Arabia before completing the necessary preparations for the holding of boxing matches in a new country on the game, he said that others will come regardless of that, and the dangers accepted by the boxers make them accept the likes Those attractive offers from the world leaders in exporting oil.
“Our mission is to provide strong opportunities for our customers who play one of the most violent and dangerous sports,” Hearne said.