Using the international sporting arena to impose political views is contradictory to the spirit of international sports and its goal of being a bridge among cultures.

Using the international sporting arena to impose political views is contradictory to the spirit of international sports and its goal of being a bridge among cultures.

When will countries see that politicizing sporting events not only negatively impacts the image of the event, but impacts the athletes’ long years of training, their opportunities for advancement and the opportunities to present their country in a positive, high profile manner?

The latest country to impose orders on one of their athletes is Tunisia. As the article linked below from ESPN, Tunisia’s Tennis Federation and their Ministry of Youth and Sports ordered Malek Jaziri, ranked 169th in the word in tennis, not to compete again Israeli tennis competitor Amir Weintraub this past Friday in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. There are numerous losers in this match!!!

(Tunisia orders withdrawal vs. Israeli

http://espn.go.com/tennis/story/_/id/9808676/tunisia-orders-player-withdrawal-vs-israeli#comments  )

Tunisia’s tennis champion Malek Jaziri’s competitive career may be adversely affected by not competing in the match which could have helped advance his career and the positive image he has earned thus far for Tunisia.

In January 2011, following the flight of Tunisia’s longtime dictator, Ziabeddine Ben Ali as a result of the initiatives of the country’s youth to achieve freedom, initiatives which inspired democratization drives to other…Tunisia’s image rose to a positive height in the world. This positive image was brief, soon to be eclipsed by Egypt’s struggles and then the subsequent conflicts in other countries’ struggles, from Libya, Syria, Bahrain and elsewhere.

Since January 2011, Tunisia’s economy has been battered. The image of political instability devastated the country’s tourism industry, which provides for nearly 800,000 jobs and some 7% of the country’s GNP. Subsequent incidents which received negative press have continued to make tourism recovery difficult.

Foreign investment in Tunisia’s economy that would yield job creation has all but dried up or departed Tunisia, a result of the political image seen by potential investors of an Islamic led government that has achieved nothing to suggest political stability or a positive environment for foreign, financial investment.

Who within the tennis federation or within the Ministry of Youth and Sports felt that barring Jaziri would serve a useful purpose? At a time when Tunisia must enhance its image, it has by its short-sighted action, again brought diminishment to the country’s image.

Tunisia needs all the positive image it can yield if it wants to aid the country’s economic recovery. Actions such as this ban imposed on Jaziri are not only undiplomatic and short-sighted, but will only serve to benefit those who seem to cling to outdated political tactics.

To paraphrase a now deceased international diplomat, “Tunisia seems to never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity!”

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