Israeli tennis star ‘banned for own security’

Shahar Peer told CNN she learned of her visa ban Saturday, just before her scheduled flight to Dubai.
Organizers of a tennis tournament in Dubai, criticized for banning an Israeli female player, said Tuesday they were trying to protect the woman from anti-Israel protests.

“The Tournament respects Ms. Shahar Peer as a professional tennis player on the Tour and understands her disappointment,” the organizers wrote in a statement. “Ms. Peer personally witnessed protests against her at another tournament in New Zealand only a few weeks ago. “We do not wish to politicize sports, but we have to be sensitive to recent events in the region and not alienate or put at risk the players and the many tennis fans of different nationalities that we have here.” Peer was scheduled to fly to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, but was informed on Saturday night by telephone that she would not be granted a visa. Watch Peer describe her disappointment » This sparked a response from the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour that it could drop Dubai from the World Tennis Tour calendar.

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“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,” WTA chairman and chief executive officer Larry Scott said. Scott noted this is not the first time Dubai has taken this type of action.

Last year an Israeli men’s doubles team was denied entry. The emirate cited security reasons after recent unrest in the region, he said.