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Dubai Rights A Wrong, Albeit Late
By Thurston Soros, Lawn Tennis Analyst, Posted: Saturday, February 21, 2009 11:54am PST USA
Dubai Rights A Wrong, Albeit Late, Shahar Peer, Lawn Tennis Magazine Dubai--( I asked the top ranked female Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer exactly two years ago in 2007 why she'd chosen to play Memphis, not Dubai. Her reply: "That's not even a question. I can't play Dubai."

A WTA Tour representative informed the media to ask only "tennis related questions." But if Peer was openly discriminated against

Dubai, UAE, Shahar Peer of Israel | Image: Getty Images
Dubai, UAE, Lawn Tennis Magazine
Shahar Peer in 2007: "That's not even a question. I can't play Dubai."

and not allowed to compete in Dubai, wasn't that tennis related?

Peer, ranked 48th in the world, gave a response which seemed bitter to a degree and by another part nonchalant, as if she was moving forward with tennis career and with her life, despite the United Arab Emirates' policy to refuse Israeli visa requests, a move which had denied her and her fellow Israelis admission into the city of Dubai since years ago.

Earlier this month the WTA Tour released a statement that Peer would take part in this year's Dubai tournament. And last week the women's singles draw was posted with Peer listed as one of the tennis players entered.

But then Peer was removed from the singles draw after UAE officials denied her visa request for what they said was for her own safety.

The WTA Tour fined the organizers of the Dubai tournament a record $300,000. But with Dubai worth billions, not a large amount for them. However the WTA ruled that Peer would receive computer rankings points and monetary compensation for her Dubai victimization and would be ensured entry in the 2010 Dubai tournament which she has said she would play.

The UAE also would after consideration announce that another Israeli, the doubles specialist Andy Ram, would receive a "special entry permit" into Dubai which will allow him to compete in next week's Dubai ATP Tour tournament.

And despite righting a wrong, albeit late, the Dubai tournament suffered and continues to suffer worldwide fallout. In the USA, this week the Tennis Channel cancelled all WTA Tour match broadcasts and the Wall Street Journal Europe pulled its tournament sponsorship.

Five of the top seven men's seeds for next week's Dubai ATP Tour tournament have pulled out. The top ranked Rafael Nadal of Spain and second ranked Roger Federer of Switzerland said they were injured.

The defending men's champion Andy Roddick of the USA withdrew Friday in protest of Peer's visa denial.

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