Sunday, 22 February 2009

Tennis Ping Pong

It's going to be an interesting week at the tennis. I'm not referring to the game itself, the thrill of which has always, like that of golf, eluded me, but to the shenanigans around the Dubai Duty Free Open Championships tournament.

For a start we're going to be seeing how you resolve the interesting question of why the Women's Tennis Association is fining the organisers because the host country denied a visa to an Israeli player in accordance with that host country's practice over the past 30 years.

The United Arab Emirates joined the Arab League's Arab Boycott of Israel, has no diplomatic relations with Israel and it was always been clear that not only would an Israeli citizen be denied a visa, but entrance could be complicated and even denied on possession of an Israeli stamp in your passport. So quite what made the WTA think this would be ‘sorted’ without some pretty special handling is anyone’s guess.

Then there’s the even more interesting question of this week’s Israeli, doubles player Ram, whose visa has been granted. That left the spokesperson for the organisers sounding perhaps a little wobbly in today's Gulf News (640g), which reports:

Tournament director Salah Tahlak denied that any errors of judgement had been made, as claimed by a section of the players and the media. Commenting on his statement on Tuesday that Peer's visa had been denied for security reasons, he said: "Whatever reason was given last week, we had our reasons. Maybe then it was still fresh what happened in Gaza and we made that very clear in the statement.

Maybe indeed.

6 comments:

Catalin said...

Add to what you said the fact that along Federer and Nadal (no.2 and no.1) not coming to Dubai due to injury, you've got Andy Roddick who just pulled out because he does not agree with the visa policy of the UAE. Lucky we spent "only" 4 hours in the queue to get tickets...

Dave said...

If you read wikipedia's profile on Shaheer Peer it lists her occupation (outside of tennis) as an administrative assistant for the Israeli Military.

It reads that she chose to remain with the military after her mandatory national service.

I think Govt's try (somewhat) to separate sport & tennis, but there were just TOO many issues to let her into the UAE.....

Rose in Dubai said...

OK , here's a question - are there any other Jewish players in the tournament? I'm pretty sure they are and, if there are, it needs to be publicised so that the Israeli lobby can stop whinging about Dubai being anti-Jewish.

If the girl is in the military and the guy is not then it needs to be stated that that is the reason for not giving her a visa. Doesn't seem unreasonable to me but Dubai's usual attitude of "say nothing and hope it goes away" is not helpful as it just allows the Israelis to get their propaganda to the front pages.

the real nick said...

last week, we had our reasons. Maybe then it was still fresh what happened in Gaza

Almost a Freudian slip of tongue. What a difference a week makes!

Come next week and they'll have all but forgotten about Gaza. This really is becoming a comedy show.

Mars said...

i think this has been taken too far - and this time I'm behind Dubai.

rootless said...

I think your stance on this is a bit defensive and parochial. Like many of us I a think Dubai has come in for a lot of undeserved stick lately but remember there was no objection to ridiculously gushing pieces that used to appear when that was the official standard opinion. However, you live by the sword etc. Dubai can't expect to be a destination for major sporting events without getting sucked into these types of controversies. If, for example, the issue was with visas for nationals of Spain or Russia, then how might it work? Yes Dubai has a choice: hold fast to political principles and become a minor provincial event or swallow hard on those principles and continue to build this into a major recognised part of the tennis tour. We can't have it both ways as this (typically overblown on both sides) melodrama has illustrated.

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