Cape Town - Minister of Sport and Recreation Thulas Nxesi plans to boycott the upcoming Davis Cup tie between South Africa and Israel.
The tie is scheduled for next weekend at the Irene Country Club outside Pretoria from February 2-3.
Israel visiting these shores has drawn criticism from various organisations due to the political situation in the country.
Via a press statement released on Friday, Nxesi compared the current political situation in Israel to that of the old Apartheid system in South Africa.
“Our own Human Sciences Research Council, in 2009, produced a report documenting how Israel is practicing Apartheid in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” Nxesi said.
The sports minister continued: “I myself have experienced Israeli discrimination and occupation when I was denied entry to Palestine in 2012. In response to this and other practices by the Israeli regime against the Palestinians, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and many other notable South Africans, have called on the world to support the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.”
Tennis South Africa (TSA) indicated that they were planning on going ahead with the tie.
A press statement released by the tennis governing body reads: “The event has evoked a variety of views, from different groups within our society. For this reason, we would like to clarify our position.
“ TSA, along with 200 other countries globally, is an affiliate of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and participates in the Davis Cup - the World Cup of Tennis - on an annual basis. One of the ITF’s key objectives for this competition is to grow the sport of tennis, and to do so without discrimination on the grounds of colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origin, age, sex or religion.
“ The ITF believes that sport should be used as a unifying element between athletes and nations. The ITF’s flagship competitions, Davis Cup and Fed Cup, were founded on the idea of fostering greater understanding among nations through tennis, a principle that is as valid today as it was over 100 years ago.
“TSA fully supports the guiding principles of both the ITF and the Davis Cup.
“We look forward to a weekend of high quality tennis and wish our team the best of luck as they begin their campaign to try and win promotion to the Davis Cup World Group.”
Nxesi added: “I would actually have loved to attend the Davis Cup but given the concerns that activists and fellow South Africans are raising regarding the presence of an Israeli team I believe that it would not be proper for me to attend.”
Read Nxesi’s full statement below: