News / Africa

    Pistorius Pulls Out of Major Races; Sponsor Pulls Ads

    South Africa's Oscar Pistorius is seen after a race in London, September 5, 2012.South Africa's Oscar Pistorius is seen after a race in London, September 5, 2012.
    x
    South Africa's Oscar Pistorius is seen after a race in London, September 5, 2012.
    South Africa's Oscar Pistorius is seen after a race in London, September 5, 2012.
    Anita Powell
    South Africa Olympian Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial could take months, but the court of public opinion ruled within a day. One of his major South African sponsors pulled a campaign featuring the running superstar just hours after Pistorius’ girlfriend was found shot dead at his home. His agent announced the runner would be canceling all future races. Other sponsors have been careful to not say what they plan to do. But if the fates of other fallen athletes are any indication, Pistorius’ financial prospects are grim.
     
    Among the crowd that squeezed itself into a packed courthouse for Oscar Pistorius’ initial hearing Friday was one silver-haired man who stared pensively ahead.
     
    That may have been because of all the people in that room, he might be the one with the second biggest amount to lose.
     
    It was Pistorius’ agent, Peet van Zyl.
     
    On Sunday, van Zyl said Pistorius would be dropping out of five races scheduled through late May in Australia, the United States, Brazil and Britain. Those races were expected to help Pistorius get in peak physical shape for the world championships in August.
     
    Van Zyl refused to discuss Pistorius’ state of mind after he visited him late Sunday in his cell at a Pretoria police station. But he said the runner - who rose to fame for his incredible athletic feats as a double amputee - still has lots of supporters.
     
    “I can tell you that we have had overwhelming support for Oscar from a lot of fans on a global scale, really on a global scale. South African fans, international fans, from literally all over the world. He knows it. I have given him that message. Obviously, from a management side and also as a friend, it’s tragic circumstances and events that have unfolded and we can only give Oscar our support at this point in time.”
     
    Van Zyl said most of Pistorius’ sponsors are sticking with him and waiting for the legal process to continue.
     
    Pistorius is the world’s highest paid Paralympic athlete. Most of his income comes from lucrative sponsorships, including deals with Nike, sunglasses brand Oakley, and fashion designer Thierry Mugler, which gave him a perfume deal. He’s reportedly made $4.7 million dollars in such deals.
     
    One exception is South African satellite provider M-Net, which acted within hours of the news, announcing on Twitter that it would pull its entire campaign “out of respect and sympathy to the bereaved.”
     
    Workers around Johannesburg were seen Thursday tearing down M-Net billboards featuring Pistorius’ face.
     
    A representative of Nike, the runner’s most prominent sponsor, refused to comment on the company’s plans. South Africa-based spokeswoman Seruscka Naidoo said “as the incident is a police matter, Nike will not comment further at this time.”
     
    Other sports figures have lost deals in the wake of scandals. Most similar to Pistorius’ case was that of American football player OJ Simpson, who lost his lucrative ad deals after being charged with murdering his ex-wife. The sponsors did not come back after he was acquitted in 1995.
     
    American cyclist Lance Armstrong lost many of his sponsors after admitting to doping and losing his seven Tour de France titles.
     
    And golfer Tiger Woods was dropped in 2009 by many of his sponsors amid allegations he cheated on his wife.

    Additional reporting by Peter Cox in Pretoria

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora