TEL AVIV (Jan. 4)
Soviet authorities have reversed their promise to issue visas to fans of the Maccabee Tel Aviv basketball team, which plays the champion CSKA Red Army team in Moscow next week.
The Diesenhaus travel agency initially received 470 applications for entry visas, airline tickets and hotel rooms after the Soviets announced last month that Israelis would be welcome to follow their team.
Avi Friedman, assistant manager of Diesenhaus, told Israel Radio from Vienna on Wednesday that the deal was off.
He said Soviet officials there told him they could not agree to such a large group of Israelis in Moscow, because Israel and the Soviet Union have no diplomatic relations.
Meanwhile, the original 470 applicants dwindled to 180, after would-be travelers learned that Intourist, the Soviet travel bureau, was charging them more than double the normal rates for visas and the tour package, Friedman said.