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LIV Golf has been criticized with celebrities in Oregon

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Ore, North Plains — The Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series arrived in the United States on Thursday and continues to spice up classy sports with the slogan “Golf, but noisier.” Other than this, it’s probably not the kind of noise that its supporters had in mind.

Some oppose hosting a three-day tournament at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, about 20 miles northwest of Portland. Disapproval comes from politicians, 9/11 survivor and family groups, club members who resigned in protest, and at least one candid club board member. Critics have accused Saudi Arabia of using sports to explain that they are trying to soften the western perception of its harsh human rights record.

Portland is the first of five LIV (Roman numeral representing 54-hole format) tournaments to be held in the United States this year. The newly formed tour quickly became a threat to the well-established PGA Tour as marquee players such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka joined Saudi’s efforts with prize money and eight-digit entry fees.

The Portland tournament is when local anger is still burning after the 2016 death of Fallon Smart, a 15-year-old high school student who was killed while crossing the streets of Portland by a driver traveling nearly 60 miles per hour. Will be held in. Students at a community college in Saudi Arabia faced a felony of manslaughter, fled for smart death, removed tracking devices, disappeared before trial, and apparently returned home with the support of Saudi authorities. ..

Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat in Oregon, has urged Smart justice and the White House to increase Saudi accountability. He criticized the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund-backed LIV golf tournament as an attempt to cleanse the human rights reputation of a country known as sportswashing.

“No matter how much they cough, they won’t be able to wash it off,” Weiden said in an interview. “Saudi couldn’t choose such an insulting and painful place to host a golf tournament,” he added of Smart’s death.

Terry Lenahan, the mayor of the small North Plains with a population of 3,440, has signed a letter with 10 other mayors in the area opposed to the LIV tournament, but they admit they can’t stop it. Some members of Pumpkin Ridge have resigned in protest.

Golfers “willingly conspire” with some families and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks planning a press conference on Thursday, with 15 of 19 hijackers stealing money from a country that is among its citizens We talked about what we call.

Tournament critics say U.S. intelligence officials kill and dismantle Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in 2018 against the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. He states that he has concluded that he has ordered. On March 1, 81 men were executed in Saudi Arabia, raising questions about the impartiality of their criminal justice system. And women in Saudi Arabia haven’t been allowed to drive until 2018 after a long ban, and to make many decisions in life, they need to get permission from their male relatives.

“I really felt it was a moral obligation to say that I couldn’t support this golf tournament because of where the money came from to support it,” Lenahan said in an interview. rice field. “The problem is that the Saudi government has publicly executed people, oppressed women, and regarded them as second-class citizens. And they killed journalists and dismantled him. I feel disgusted.”

Escalante Golf, a Texas company that owns the Pumpkin Ridge Course, did not respond to requests for comment.

The LIV tournament takes place against the backdrop of Realpolitik. As a candidate, President Biden has vowed to make Saudi Arabia the “Paria” for Khashoggi’s murder. However, Biden will travel to Saudi Arabia in mid-July, seeking relief from the oil-rich kingdom, especially due to soaring US gasoline prices.

In fact, human rights issues often lag behind financial and marketing concerns in the field of international sports. For example, China has been nominated as the venue for the 2022 Winter Olympics and the 2008 Summer Olympics. And the NBA is doing a solid business there. According to a recent ESPN report, owners of the league’s major teams have invested more than $ 10 billion in China.

The creation of the LIV Tour resurfaced long-standing questions about athletes’ moral obligations and their desire to compete and make money.

Generally speaking, Weiden, who played college basketball easily, said the Saudi approach was “a part of a truly dictatorial playbook.” He went on to think, “They will come in, buy everyone, buy silence,” and “someone will be upset on Tuesday and everyone will forget on Thursday.”

The Portland tournament features $ 25 million in prizes, including $ 5 million for team play and $ 4 million for individual winners.

At a press conference here, golfers acknowledged the economic appeal of the LIV tour. He said they would respect various opinions about their involvement. Some people downplay human rights issues, while others, like Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood, feel that golf is an eternal force.

“If we can help in any country or place in the world, that’s what we’re trying to do,” Garcia said.

Journeyman American golfer Pat Perez frankly said that being able to play golf and spend less time on the road while participating in the LIV series was his “only concern”. ..

“I understand the topics you are trying to raise, and they are horrific events, but I’m here to play golf,” Perez said. “That’s my job.”

Former world’s number one golfer, Koepka, who won both the US Open and the PGA Championship twice, said Perez was “here to play golf.”

2020 US Open Champion Bryson DeChambeau was asked if he was struggling with the source of his prizes at the LIV event. DeChambeau said golf is “a force for good, and over time, people see what they are doing and what they are trying to achieve, rather than seeing the bad things that have happened before. “I hope it will be.” He continued, “I think it’s important to move on.”

Andy McNice, a member of Pumpkin Ridge’s board of directors and acting in a strict advisory position, couldn’t move on.

Club owner Escalante Golf seems to be only interested in holding LIV tournaments, McNice said in an interview. As he told other reporters, McNice sold out Escalante’s own honor, the pumpkin ridge’s honor, and “strangely, they sold out part of my honor, and I got it. I don’t like it. “

He plans to visit the course to see the tournament setup, but said he wouldn’t see the competition. He handed out four tickets to others for each of the three days. As such, McNice said, “LIVs don’t get any money from them.”