Thousands demonstrate Israel-Sweden match

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Thousands of people demonstrated against Israel during a Davis Cup match in Sweden.

About 6,000 protesters gathered Saturday afternoon outside the matches’ venue in Malmo. Some 1,000 police kept the demonstrators, many of whom tried to storm the arena, under control. Five protesters were arrested for throwing rocks. Violence also continued elsewhere in the city.

Spectators were barred from watching the Davis Cup play because the city said it could not guarantee the Israeli players’ safety, with only about 300 to 400 media representatives, sponsors and guests in attendance, according to reports.

The decision to bar specators came shortly after the United Arab Emirates refused to issue a visa to Israeli tennis standout Shachar Pe’er for a Dubai tournament last month.

"In almost every respect, the events of the past week in Sweden are a sad moment for tennis, for sports in general, and certainly for Israel. Never in my career as an athlete have I encountered such hatred and such blend of sports and politics," Israeli doubles tennis star Andy Ram said in an Op-Ed in Ynet. He added that he has never seen such tight security.

Israel defeated Sweden, 3-2, on Sunday to advance to the Davis Cup quarterfinals. In the decisive match, Harel Levy outlasted Andreas Vinciguerra in five sets in a battle that lasted 3 1/2 hours.

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