February 17, 2009

Shahar Peer, Israeli Tennis Star Banned from Dubai

interesting situation:

Shahar Peer, Israeli Tennis Star Banned from Dubai

Organizers of a tennis tournament in Dubai, criticized for banning an Israeli player, said Tuesday they were trying to protect the woman from anti-Israel protests.

Shahar Peer told CNN she learned of her visa ban Saturday, just before her scheduled flight to Dubai.

"The Tournament respects Ms. Shahar Peer as a professional tennis player on the Tour and understands her disappointment," the organizers wrote in a statement.

"Ms. Peer personally witnessed protests against her at another tournament in New Zealand only a few weeks ago.

"We do not wish to politicize sports, but we have to be sensitive to recent events in the region and not alienate or put at risk the players and the many tennis fans of different nationalities that we have here."

Peer was scheduled to fly to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, but was informed on Saturday night by telephone that she would not be granted a visa.

This sparked a response from the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour that it could drop Dubai from the World Tennis Tour calendar.

Organizers of a women's tennis tournament said Tuesday that security fears were behind the decision to bar an Israeli player — a move that could force another showdown when the men's play begins next week.

The snub brought swift denunciations from the Women's Tennis Association and warnings that it could consider scratching Dubai from its calendar.

Tuesday's statement by the Dubai Tennis Championships — citing fan anger at Israeli's recent incursions into the Gaza Strip — was the first detailed explanation of the last-minute visa denial for Shahar Peer, who qualified as the 48th-ranked player in the world.

Shahar Peer, Israeli Tennis Star Banned from Dubai

Posted at February 17, 2009 12:14 PM