Tennis superstar Roger Federer defended his sponsorship deal with Credit Suisse after climate change activists, including Greta Thunberg, criticized his ties to the embattled investment bank this week ahead of the Australian Open.
Thunberg, a 17-year-old climate activist with nearly 4 million Twitter followers, retweeted posts that called for Federer to cease working with Credit Suisse over its loans to fossil-fuel companies. The Swiss bank has sponsored Federer since 2009.
Federer, who is set to compete at the Australian Open, even as it battles destructive bushfires that have ravaged the continent, told Reuters he takes “the impact and threat of climate change very seriously, particularly as my family and I arrive in Australia amidst devastation from the bushfires.”
“As the father of four young children and a fervent supporter of universal education, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the youth climate movement, and I am grateful to young climate activists for pushing us all to examine our behaviors and act on innovative solutions,” Federer said in a statement. “We owe it to them and ourselves to listen. I appreciate reminders of my responsibility as a private individual, as an athlete and as an entrepreneur, and I’m committed to using this privileged position to dialogue on important issues with my sponsors.”
The bushfires have forced the suspension of some qualifying matches ahead of the Australian Open, which is set to begin on Monday. Tennis Australia officials said they treat smoke-related stoppages as they would rain or heat delays, ESPN reported.
Federer is set to participate alongside fellow tennis stars Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka in an event to raise money for bushfire relief.
Credit Suisse addressed its involvement with fossil-fuel companies and climate change with the release of a fact sheet on Monday, arguing that activists had engaged in a campaign against the bank that is spreading false information and ignoring facts.
“Singling out Credit Suisse among global banks is misleading and uncalled for,” the bank said. “Credit Suisse is seeking to align its financing with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.”
At least 27 people have died in the Australian bushfires, which have destroyed more than 2,000 homes since September.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.