After yesterday's disappointing news concerning the UAE's denial of Shahar Peer's visa into Dubai, a number of top lady ballers at the tourney lent their support to the Israeli.
It's not acceptable. I think sport should be above issues like that to do with religion and wars and whatever. I'm surprised.Elena Dementieva:
I feel very sorry for her. She's a very good girl and very sensitive. I played her in Auckland and there was some kind of demonstration during the match. I just feel sad for her. She really cares about what's going on between Israel and Palestine and it's just a very tough situation. I think the tour takes it seriously and I wish she could play in Dubai.Ana Ivanovic:
It's very unfortunate, I feel very sorry for her. Shahar is a friend of mine and I feel sorry she's not here. It's always a pity to mix politics and sport. But the WTA is looking into it.Dinara Safina:
It's pretty disappointing she's not playing here. She's a great player and a great athlete. I hope she will have many more chances. I think the WTA is doing its best for them.Yeah, we're all hoping the WTA executives do their best for Shahar and her career and a great start would be to cancel the Dubai tourney's membership in the WTA for violating Tour policy by denying her entry into a tourney for which she qualified.
I think that would be the best.
UPDATE: WTA CEO Larry Scott spoke with the AP today about the matter -
WTA Tour chairman Larry Scott said Monday that barring Peer threatens the principle that sports and politics should not mix.He also spoke with The New York Times and said,
Speaking by telephone to The Associated Press, he said the WTA will consider what “types of sanctions are going to be deemed to be appropriate in light of what has happened, including whether or not the tournament has a slot on the calendar next year.”
Asked if there is a risk that the tournament could be dropped if this matter is not set right, Scott replied: “You could say that, yes.”
“There’s two things we need to consider: What’s the future fate of the Dubai tournament and what sanctions apply. And the second thing is how does Shahar get treated fairly, how does her situation get redressed?” he added.
"Sports and politics should not mix and the fundamental principles upon which the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour are founded include open and fair competition to all, regardless of nationality, creed, race, religion, etc."
“That’s not just a principle that our Tour is founded upon, but I think it is the underlying spirit of international sports in general and therefore I think the ramifications of what happened here ripple well beyond tennis.”
“We will think deeply about this in making our decision on what our final response is."
We knew it was an issue, but we made it clear that she was going to be in the draw and we wanted to be optimistic that she would get the visa. Then they waited until the 11th hour to deny it.Shahar released the following statement -
I am very disappointed that I have been prevented from playing in the Dubai tournament. I think a red line has been crossed here that could harm the purity of the sport and other sports. I have always believed that politics and sports should not be mixed.Furthermore, discussion of canceling this week's tourney occurred with Shahar and Tour officials. However, she didn't want the other lady ballers to suffer the same consquences she's facing so they decided to move forward.
(image via Getty)