JERUSALEM (JTA) – An American Jewish umbrella group called on the Women’s Tennis Association and its corporate sponsors to sanction the United Arab Emirates over the Shahar Pe’er visa flap.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, meeting this week in Jerusalem, issued a statement condemning the UAE’s decision over the weekend to deny the Israeli player a visa due to her nationality. Pe’er, the No. 48 player in the world, was scheduled to play this week in the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships.
"We regret the decision to allow the tournament to go ahead and call on the WTA board of directors to act decisively so that others considering similar exclusionary and discriminatory moves will be dissuaded," chairman Alan Solow and executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein said in the statement issued Tuesday. "The UAE’s action is reminiscent of the Arab Boycott which we had all hoped was a thing of the past, especially in regard to sports events.
"The excuse that the UAE was concerned about Ms. Peer’s security is spurious. Any country that cannot assure the security of all players in a tournament should not be allowed to host it."
The leaders called on Sony Ericsson, sponsors of the tour, and Barclays, the sponsor of the Dubai tournament, "to drop their future sponsorship unless and until appropriate corrective measures are taken."
The Presidents Conference further called on the ATP to cancel next week’s men’s tournament in Dubai if the UAE denies a visa to Andy Ram, a top Israeli player.
The organization praised The Tennis Channel network for canceling its broadcast of the tournament, and the Wall Street Journal European edition for withdrawing its sponsorship of the event.