Dubai: It was #BlackOutTuesday in the world of sport too as protests boiled over at the death of George Floyd, who became the latest victim of the scourge of racism in the society.
From the ‘Big Three’ of men’s tennis to the Chelsea football team’s training session – the elite sporting community who are often accused of living in ivory towers – the condemnation of over the death of unarmed Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 rang out loud and clear.
Men’s world No. 1 Novak Djokovic posted black screenshots on his Twitter and Instagram pages with the message “Black Lives Matter”, and was joined by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Grand Slam winners Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova and Stan Wawrinka were among other players who signalled their support for the campaign.
African-American teenage phenomenon Coco Gauff and Japan’s Naomi Osaka have also expressed their anger over Floyd’s death.
Replying to Federer’s Instagram post, the 16-year-old Gauff commented: “Click the link in my bio to get resources on HOW YOU CAN HELP! THANK YOU.” Osaka, whose father is Haitian and mother is Japanese, said people should be doing more than posting “the black square”.
“I’m torn between roasting people for only posting the black square this entire week … or accepting that they could’ve posted nothing at all so I should deal with this bare minimum bread crumb they have given,” she posted on Twitter.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) posted a black screen shot as well as a statement against racism on its social media handles.
In Premiership, a day after Liverpool posted group photo of their team in kneel down salutes, Chelsea players followed suit on Tuesday to show support for the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement ahead of their training session.
“Before training at Cobham this morning, the Chelsea players and coaching staff formed the letter H, for humans, and knelt in a show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement,” the club said in a statement.
“The player-led initiative comes as protests take place around the world following the death of George Floyd in the United States early last week,” the statement added.
Fifa President Gianni Infantino has said that the recent demonstrations of players in Bundesliga matches, showing solidarity with Floyd, deserve “applause and not a punishment”.
“For the avoidance of doubt, in a Fifa competition the recent demonstrations of players in Bundesliga matches would deserve an applause and not a punishment,” Infantino said in a statement.
“We all must say no to racism and any form of discrimination. We all must say no to violence. Any form of violence,” he added.
Fifa further said that if fully understands the depth of sentiment and concerns expressed by many footballers in light of the tragic circumstances of the Floyd case.
“Fifa itself has promoted many anti-racism campaigns which frequently carry the anti-racism message at matches organised under its own auspices,” their statement read.
IOC backs athletes’ protests
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), meanwhile, said they respected athletes’ rights to express their feelings and opinions over the death of Floyd, an IOC spokesperson said.
“The IOC fully respects that many athletes have made statements on social media and in the media. This is their individual right, and this is a right that we fully support,” an IOC spokesperson told a news agency.
Sports organisations including the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee have also expressed solidarity “with all who are committed to be forces for good.”
German Olympic Sports Confederation president Alfons Hoermann supported athletes to “raise their voices over such a completely unacceptable development,” in an interview public broadcasters ZDF.
“For its part, the IOC will continue to be guided for all Olympic-related matters by the Fundamental Principles of the Olympic Charter, in particular Principle 6, which states: ‘The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Olympic Charter shall be secured without discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.’