Six No-Love: Tennis Star Banned

Dubai has sidelined Israeli tennis star Shachar Peer from a World Tennis Association tournament. Her fault: she is from Israel.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu ,

Dubai tennis court
Dubai tennis court
Israel News Photo

The World Tennis Association has threatened to boycott the annual matches in Dubai next year but has not cancelled this year's tournament despite the banning of Israeli tennis star Shachar Peer by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). She committed "the crime of being from the wrong country," The New York Times reported.

Peer, ranked 48th in the world, last played in the WTA tournament in Qatar, which is trying to market itself as an international sports attraction. Although Qatar and Israel have no full diplomatic relations, many Israelis enter on second-country passports and occasionally are allowed into the country on Israeli passports for meetings of the United Nations and other international agencies.

WTA executive Larry Scott said the tour and many of the players were "extremely disappointed" by the Dubai ban, and he threatened that the city may lose the prize games next year if it continues its bias against Israel.

"We knew it was an issue, but we made it clear that she was going to be in the draw and we wanted to be optimistic that she would get the visa," Scott said. "Then they waited until the 11th hour to deny it."
He stated the tournament will open as scheduled on Sunday but added that the WTA will "review appropriate future actions with regard to the future of the Dubai tournament.'' The WTA executive added, "Peer has earned the right to play in the tournament and it is regrettable that the UAE is denying her this right."

Scott told the Times that Peer's family cautioned against cancelling the tournament this year in order not to harm other players. Scott said. "We talked to our players and told them that something terrible has happened here, but every single one would be punished if we were to cancel."

Times correspondent Harvey Araton commented, "We have seen Olympic officials turn into ostriches when Iranians have packed up their gym bags when matched against an Israeli. When it comes to basketball, a sport Israel loves and happens to be pretty good at, its teams are relocated to Europe, a region it has almost no chance to survive….

"Tennis should finish its business in the gulf this month, and say bye-bye, Dubai."