WWE announced Thursday it has decided to uphold its contract to the General Sports Authority and stage the Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia despite the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
WWE will stage Crown Jewel as planned in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Nov. 2 despite growing pressure to move the event, the company annnounced Thursday morning.
According to the company's statement, WWE decided to continue running the event at its scheduled location due to "contractual obligations" and ensure "full year 2018 guidance."
"WWE has operated in the Middle East for nearly 20 years and has developed a sizable and dedicated fan base," WWE said in the statement. "Considering the heinous crime committed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the Company faced a very difficult decision as it relates to its event scheduled for November 2 in Riyadh. Similar to other U.S.-based companies who plan to continue operations in Saudi Arabia, the Company has decided to uphold its contractual obligations to the General Sports Authority and stage the event. Full year 2018 guidance is predicated on the staging of the Riyadh event as scheduled."
Crown Jewel was under fire after the Oct. 2 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the country’s government. The Saudi government is accused of ordering and carrying out the killing inside the country’s embassy in Turkey. After initially insisting that Khashoggi was killed in a "brawl," the Saudis changed their account Thursday morning, agreeing with the Turkish government that Khashoggi's death was a "premeditated" murder.
Multiple reports had stated on Wednesday that multiple WWE stars, including John Cena and Daniel Bryan, were uncomfortable with the idea of performing in Saudi Arabia and were refusing to work the Crown Jewel.
Later in the earnings release, WWE noted that it "is continuing to monitor ongoing developments in the region, and there can be no assurances in this regard. If the event were to be cancelled, there could be material adverse impact on 2018 Adjusted OIBDA guidance. While not anticipated, it is possible that a cancellation could also impact expected results beyond 2018."
Tickets for the event were supposed to go on sale last Friday but were never released. For the past two weeks, WWE has not mentioned Saudi Arabia by name when promoting the show on television and social media.