Pe'er to Play in Bali, but Israeli Flag Not Welcome
Israeli tennis star Shachar Pe'er has been granted a visa to an international tournament in Indonesia, but her country's flag will apparently not be welcome. Pe'er was given permission to join the tournament in Bali despite the lack of diplomatic ties between Israel and Indonesia.
The Indonesian Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that while it could not control who would play in the tournament, it would take steps to ensure that no “Israeli objects” were displayed during the sports event. Traditionally, the flags of athletes' home countries are displayed during the competition.
Indonesia initially balked at Pe'er's participation in the tournament, but the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) threatened to cancel the tournament in Bali if Pe'er was not invited – and she was issued an entry visa into the country. Earlier in 2009, the Dubai Tennis Championship was fined a record $300,000 after denying Pe'er an entry visa.
Following the WTA warning, Indonesian officials announced, “We don't have diplomatic ties with Israel, but in several cases, such as sports events or if we're hosting an international conference... we could grant them an entry visa.”
Pe'er released a statement saying that she was happy to have resolved the issues surrounding her participation in the Indonesia tournament. The 22-year-old tennis star has won two WTA events so far this year – the Tashkent Open in Uzbekistan, and the Guangzhou International Women's Open in China. She is currently ranked 32 on the WTA singles list.