Tennis Channel Decides not to Televise Dubai Tournament

February 19, 2009

(ChattahBox) — The Tennis Channel will not televise the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships this week to protest the United Arab Emirates’ refusal to grant an entry visa to the Israeli player Shahar Peer.

The tournament is a premier nonmajor tournament on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour with 9 of the world’s top 10 women. Peer is ranked No. 48.

The event is part of a package of rights to several international tournaments acquired by the Tennis Channel from the WTA.

“This is an easy decision to come by, based on what is right and wrong,” Ken Solomon, the chairman and chief executive of the network, said Monday from Utah.

“Sports are about merit, absent of background, class, race, creed, color or religion. They are simply about talent. This is a classic case, not about what country did what to another country. If the state of Israel were barring a citizen of an Arab nation, we would have made the same decision.”

Larry Scott, the chairman and chief executive of the WTA Tour, on Monday saidthat he was not expecting the network’s cancellation, but that he understood it.

Solomon was not critical of the WTA’s decision to play the tournament.

“It’s easier for us to pull the plug,” he said. “It’s different for Larry and the WTA, who were more or less strung along and led to believe she would get the visa. His players were on the ground, and everything was in motion. The rug was pulled out from under their feet.”

He added: “The entire field of competitors is diminished by this happening. It hurts them all. Shahar earned the right to be in the tournament. She’s been on a roll and could have won it. It’s just hard to imagine this happening in this day and age.”

Former tennis champion and equal rights campaigner Billie Jean King has described the refusal to grant Israeli player Shahar Peer an entry visa to Dubai as shameful. King, 65, who won 39 grand slam singles, doubles and mixed doubles tennis titles during her career, founded the WTA in 1973 and has been an ardent campaigner for equality in sport.

King said in a statement.

“In the 21st century there is no reason a person should be restricted from doing his or her job because of their nationality, creed, race, gender or sexual orientation.”

The refusal to issue Peer a visa violates WTA Tour rules, which state any player should be able to compete where she wishes if she has the required ranking.

The political row was expected to rumble on because Israeli doubles player Andy Ram is in the field for the men’s tournament in Dubai next week. But in a quick reversal of policy by the U.A.E. they have granted Ram a visa. It would have been nice if Peer’s tennis sisters had all withdrawn in protest, but Of course, they didn’t. The Dubai is worth $2 million.


2 Responses to “Tennis Channel Decides not to Televise Dubai Tournament”

  1. Isak Anderssen on February 20th, 2009 6:36 am

    Israel’s apartheid politics must come to an end. They have no intention of giving the Palestinians the land and the freedom they’re entitled to. The ethnic cleansing of East-Jerusalem, and the West Bank, and the horrid siege of Gaza are evidence enough that Israel must get the same treatment South Africa got. BOYCOTT ISRAEL!

  2. Wicasta Lovelace on February 20th, 2009 9:42 am

    Whether or not you agree with Israel’s policies has nothing to do with this tennis match. If you want to start preventing athletes from competing because of the policies their countries, most Arab athletes would have to stay home. However they want to dress it up, the UAE’s decision to bar Shahar Peer from competing was a political decision. If they don’t understand the concept of fair competition, then their event SHOULD be stripped of support. UAE’s decision violates WTA rules, and they should be punished for it.

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