Anthony Joshua latest athlete to fall to Saudi sportswashing machine 1 week ago

Anthony Joshua latest athlete to fall to Saudi sportswashing machine

Anthony Joshua says he 'likes Saudi Arabia'

Anthony Joshua appears to have become the latest high-profile sports star to be lured by the riches of Saudi Arabia after he refused to criticise the regime's abhorrent human rights record.

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Joshua will fight Oleksandr Usyk in their hotly anticipated rematch in the Saudi port city of Jeddah on August 20 as he looks to win back his WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight belts from the Ukrainian.

Critics say Saudi Arabia is using the power of sport to detract from its widely criticised human rights record. In the past 12 months alone the Saudi-backed Public Investment Fund has taken over Newcastle United while the kingdom has hosted Formula One races and backed the most recent controversial sports event, the LIV Golf series.

Lionel Messi has also been recruited as an ambassador for its state-sponsored tourism campaign - a move condemned by the family members of Saudi prisoners of conscience.

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Anthony Joshua Saudi

'I like Saudi. I think Saudi's good'

Speaking during his first press conference, Joshua refused to call out the Saudi regime, instead confessing that he doesn't know what 'sportswashing' is before then going on to praise the country.

"I don't know what that [sportswashing] is. I'm here to win the heavyweight champion of the world," he said.

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"I like Saudi. I think Saudi's good. I'm having a good time here. I'm treated really well.

"All that allegation stuff, for me, I'm not caught up in any of that stuff. I'm here to have a good time, mix with the local people, bring entertainment to Saudi."

Joshua did reserve some words for his opponent Usyk however - who had returned from fighting in his homeland of Ukraine to take part in the rematch - and offered his support to all those fighting against Russian forces.

He said: "Big up to Usyk, the Klitschko brothers, everyone in Ukraine. I know it's been tough, but tough times don't last.

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"Keep your heads up, the world's watching. The world's in support... anyone that's going through tough times we're always with them so especially the Ukrainian people right now."

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