An Egyptian squash player has used his victory speech at the Optasia Championship at Wimbledon Club to ask why sports people are allowed to talk about Ukraine but not about Palestine.
“No one should accept any killings in the world, or oppression, but we’ve never been allowed to speak about politics in sports, but all of a sudden now it’s allowed,” said Ali Farag.
“And now that it’s allowed I hope that people also look at oppression everywhere in the world. The Palestinians have been going through that for the past 74 years, but I guess because it doesn’t fit the narrative of the media of the West, we couldn’t talk about it. So now we can talk about Ukraine, we can talk about Palestine.”
Analysts have asked why Western states, including Britain, imposed sanctions on Russia so quickly but have tried to ban the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel’s human rights violations.
Amnesty International has called on the UN to impose targeted sanctions against Israel for its breach of international law and committing crimes against humanity, but these have been rejected by Western governments.
Following an appeal by the International Olympic Committee several sports have banned Russian athletes from competing internationally, including hockey, ice skating, skiing and basketball.
As sanctions widened beyond Russia’s financial system, economy and airlines, FIFA imposed a one-year ban on Russia playing in World Cup qualifying matches.
Campaigners have for years tried to sanction Israel at international sporting events but have been denied on the pretext that they wanted to keep sport out of politics.
Earlier this month Irish MP Richard Boyd Barrett called out the Irish government’s double standards on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Israeli occupation.
“You’re happy to correctly use the most strong and robust language to describe the crimes against humanity of Vladimir Putin, but you will not use the same strength of language when it comes to describing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians when it is now being documented and detailed by two of the most respected human rights organisations in the world,” he said.
“Five days for sanctions against Putin and his thugs,” he continued, “70 years of oppression of the Palestinians.”