Tennis World Protests Ban of Israeli Player

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CBNNews.com - DUBAI - The American Tennis Channel has decided not to televise this week's Barclays Dubai tennis championships because of a last-minute decision by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to forbid Israeli tennis player Shahar Pe'er from entering the country.

Pe'er, 21 and ranked 45th in the world on the women's tennis tour, was denied an entry visa just one day before she was scheduled to arrive at the $2 million championship, which includes nearly all of the sport's top ten players.

The UAE claims security concerns were behind its refusal to host Pe'er. Anti-Israel sentiments are running strong in the gulf state.

The New York Times Tuesday quoted Ken Solomon, chairman of the Tennis Channel, who said of the decision not to broadcast the tournament, "This is an easy decision to come by, based on what is right and wrong."

"Sports are about merit, absent of background, class, race, creed, color or religion," Solomon said. "They are simply about talent."

The Dubai tournament may face further sanctions for the World Tennis Association (WTA).

The WTA Tour's chief executive officer, Larry Scott, says his group will consider dropping the Dubai matches from next year's calendar to protest the UAE's treatment of Pe'er.

Pe'er expressed disappointment about not playing in the tournament, but took heart from the support she received from fellow players.

"I think a red line has been crossed here that could harm the purity of the sport and other sports, Pe'er said. "I have always believed that politics and sports should not be mixed."

Sources: New York Times, Haaretz, Jerusalem Post, AP

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