The ‘Giro d’Italia’, one of cycling’s most prestigious races, will start tomorrow in Israel, despite pressures coming from Palestinian rights activists and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigners.
In a statement, the BDS Movement said the the event represents a sports-washing of Israel’s occupation and apartheid.
This would be confirmed by the choice of bestowing Israeli honorary citizenship on the late Gino Bartali, a very popular cyclist, few days before the Grande Partenza (Big Start).
At the press conference held last September, Israeli officials stated that the race, organized by Italian media conglomerate RCS MediaGroup, will celebrate 70 years since the establishment of Israel.
Sharaf Qutaifan, from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), said:
For the first time ever, a Grand Tour will set off outside Europe. This decision is even more controversial, after Israel’s violent response to the Great March of Return at the Gaza border, where Israeli snipers are targeting unarmed protesters, leading to many deaths and injuries among Palestinians.
According to the Gaza Ministry of Youth and Sports, at least 30 athletes have been injured by the Israeli forces since the beginning of the Great March of Return. Among them, there is also a cyclist, whose leg was amputated after being shot on March 30, during a protest.
Source: Palestine Chronicle