Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New Showdown After Dubai Blocks Israeli Player

The Associated Press (Reporting from Dubai), February 17, 2009 - Organizers of a women's tennis tournament said Tuesday that security fears were behind the decision to bar an Israeli player — a move that could force another showdown when the men's play begins next week.

The snub brought swift denunciations from the Women's Tennis Association and warnings that it could consider scratching Dubai from its calendar. The Tennis Channel canceled plans to televise the championships in protest.

Tuesday's statement by the Dubai Tennis Championships — citing fan anger at Israeli's recent incursions into the Gaza Strip — was the first detailed explanation of the last-minute visa denial for Shahar Peer, who qualified as the 48th-ranked player in the world. Monday's WTA rankings listed her 45th.

But Dubai, which is trying to become a showcase for world-class sports, is coming under increasing pressure with the men's field as Israeli doubles specialist Andy Ram hopes to be in the draw on Sunday....

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