More than 120 human rights organisations, unions, ethical tourism associations, sports and faith-based groups from over 20 countries have urged premier cycling event Giro dâ€™Italia to move its 2018 â€śBig Startâ€ť from Israel over the latterâ€™s violations of international law and Palestiniansâ€™ human rights.
The call was issued ahead of the official race presentation on 29 November in Milan, which coincides with the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
According to the signatories, holding the Giro dâ€™Italia in Israel will â€śboth cover up Israelâ€™s military occupation and discrimination against Palestinians and increase Israelâ€™s sense of impunity, encouraging continued denial of Palestiniansâ€™ UN-stipulated rightsâ€ť.
Individuals who have backed the call include Noam Chomsky, former United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Palestinian rights John Dugard and Richard Falk, and European Parliament members Eleonora Forenza, Curzio Maltese and Sergio Cofferati.
As part of organising the â€śBig Startâ€ť event, Giro dâ€™Italia is working with Israeli company Comtec Group, which has activities in illegal Israeli settlements. Meanwhile, in official race materials, Giro dâ€™Italia is occupied East Jerusalem as if it were part of Israel.
Just days before the Giro dâ€™Italia is to take place, the Israeli national cycling team, which is vying for one of four wildcard slots to compete in the Giro dâ€™Italia, will participate in a race through occupied East Jerusalem to the illegal settlement of Pisgat Zeâ€™ev.
The call urges race owner RCS MediaGroup â€śto move the start of the race to another country to ensure no involvement in Israeli violations of international law and Palestinian human rightsâ€ť.
The signatories also remind RCS, participating teams and sponsors of â€śthe legal consequences and reputational damage stemming from collaborating with Israeli institutions and companies involved in violations of human rights and international lawâ€ť.