Davis Cup Facing Anti-Israel Protests
While Australian tennis fans are watching the home team play Germany at the Rod Laver Arena in the 2018 Davis Cup World Group first round from February 2-4, media attention is probably going to focus on a much less important regional tie in South Africa.
The Irene Country Club, just outside Pretoria, is hosting first round ties of the Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 competition; the start of the process that could see some teams winning a shot at promotion to the World Group next year.
However, South Africa’s opponents in the round are Israel, and the country is home to a number of activist groups opposed to Israel’s “apartheid” policies in Palestine, including the BDS movement.
Government Minister Joins Pro-Palestine Activists
The South African minister of sport, Thulas Nxesi, who was himself refused entry to Israel and Palestine in 2012, has announced that he is boycotting the match.
Tennis South Africa also expects protest action outside the club over the weekend, a right guaranteed in South Africa’s constitution, although TSA expressed the hope that protestors would remain “law-abiding and peaceful”.
In a country where police response to “peaceful” protests has escalated into violence on both sides frequently in recent years, that may be a forlorn hope, however, and the anti-Israel demonstrations could well overshadow the tennis
One Zverev Fewer To Worry Australia
Local tennis fans will no doubt be more interested in Nick Kyrgios and his team as they face Germany in the first round of the Word Group championship. The German team suffered a blow when they had to send Mischa Zverev home.
The world No. 53 has not yet recovered from the viral infection that caused his withdrawal in the first round of the Australian Open, earning him a record fine for “unprofessional display”. His brother, world No. 5 Alexander, is still in the German line-up though, so punters shouldn’t expect the German attack to be toothless.