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Feb 15, 2009

Shahar Peer denied visa by UAE; Dubai could lose its WTA membership

Why me???

Israeli Shahar Peer caught up in a political controversy (what else?!) again.

The UAE refused to grant a visa to Shahar, which means preventing her from competing in the Barclays Dubai.


WTA said it was "deeply disappointed" that Peer was being denied entry to the country hosting the tournament.

However WTA did not cancel the tournament.


The move is against WTA policy, whereby no player should be barred from competing in a tournament for which she has qualified.

Dubai could lose its WTA membership next year over the ban on Shahar, according to the WTA's rules.
"We are deeply disappointed by the decision of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) denying Shahar Peer a visa that would permit her to enter the country to play in the Dubai Tennis Championships," said Larry Scott, chairman and chief executive of the tour.
"Ms. Peer has earned the right to play in the tournament and it is regrettable that the UAE is denying her this right."

"Following various consultations, the Tour has decided to allow the tournament to continue to be played this week, pending further review by the Tour's Board of Directors."

"Ms. Peer and her family are obviously extremely upset and disappointed by the decision of the UAE and its impact on her personally and professionally, and the Tour is reviewing appropriate remedies for Ms. Peer, and also will review appropriate future actions with regard to the future of the Dubai tournament," Scott said.

"The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour believes very strongly, and has a clear rule and policy, that no host country should deny a player the right to compete at a tournament for which she has qualified by ranking."
The Dubai Tennis Championships began Sunday and a cool 2 million dollars in prize money is at stake.

Updates
While I believe a player shouldn't be denied his/her rights to play in any tournament he/she qualified for, let us just face it and accept that this practice is nothing new.

For example, Pakistani player Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi was simply delayed in his Indian visa resulted in his non participation in Chennai Open.

Read Reem's blog here (she's from Eygpt) and try to understand her point of view too.

I think Shahar and all of us have to start accepting the fact that she'll possibly be denied visas in other Islamic countries too.

At this moment Shahar should stay out of controversies until the political tension has improved (I wonder when) and play in only countries where is she welcomed.

(Via cnn.com; Image by Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images)

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