LIV boss Norman says he never spoke to Saudi crown prince about rights

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LIV golf boss Greg Norman said on Thursday he had never discussed human rights with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as he urged people to focus on sport and not “white noise”.

Banked by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which is chaired by Prince Mohammed, LIV shocked the world of elite golf last year by attracting the top stars of the US PGA Tour and the DP World Tour.

He leaves Australia for the first time on Friday, with a sell-out crowd in Adelaide from a country starved of big-ticket tournaments and superstar players.

But tour chiefs face questions about Saudi Arabia’s “sportswashing” – the use of sports to criticize its human rights record, including the brutal killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Asked if he had ever met with Prince Mohammed or senior members of the Saudi leadership to discuss human rights, Norman said no, insisting that was not his job. .

“Why not? Because I’m the chairman and CEO of LIV Golf Investments, and that’s where I focus, I focus on golf, I stay focused on golf,” he said in the Adelaide.

“My job is to build LIV and our product and platform on the world stage.

“Golf is a force for good,” he said. “I’ve built golf courses in Third World countries, in communist countries. So golf is a force for good, it goes everywhere with the right platform.”

Human Rights Watch told national broadcaster ABC that the tournament was a clear example of sports laundering, saying it was a “tool” to improve Saudi Arabia’s international image.

“We really see LIV Golf as a major attempt to wash the sport by Saudi Arabia to address their terrible abuses,” said the organization’s Joey Shea.

But Norman said he was proud to have brought the 54-hole, uncut, “Golf but Louder” round to his home country, saying it was “what the fans want”.

“Forgetting all the white noise that everyone talks and writes about, this is all about the game of golf and what is good for the game of golf and what is good for the local area,” he said.

South Australian state premier Peter Malinauskas, who was seated next to Norman at the Grange Golf Club, said hosting the tournament was an unparalleled economic opportunity and Australia was a long-standing trading partner. -time with Saudi Arabia.

“I think as a country, and indeed South Australia, I think we have a strong history of advocating for the cause of humanity, generally when it comes to issues of rights human,” he said.

“But we choose as a country to trade actively with Saudi Arabia, the largest economy in the Middle East, and we do so knowingly, without doing any harm to what is we believe as a country.

“LIV is not a representative of Saudi Arabia, LIV is a golf tournament, a golf tour that builds things, and I think that’s a good thing,” he said.


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