Sports Law Blog
All things legal relating
to the sports world...
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
When they say they don't want to politicize sports, . . .

Shahar Peer of Israel, the # 48-ranked women's singles player, was denied an entry visa to the United Arab Emirates to play in this week's Barclays Dubai Tournament, citing security fears of having an Israeli playing in Dubai in the wake of the recent military conflict in Gaza. The denial, by the way, came on Saturday night, with Peer's first match scheduled for Monday. The Tennis Channel refused to broadcast the tournament following the UAE's decision.

The tournament organizer, Dubai Duty Free, said Peer's "presence would have antagonized our fans." The statement then added "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 in the UAE."

Sorry, folks; you cannot have it both ways. Shahar Peer is neither an Israeli political official nor a member of the Israeli military; she played no role in the events in Gaza and those events have nothing to do with her--and certainly nothing to do with her as a tennis player. You have banned an Israeli player from the tournament (the country, actually) explicitly on the ground that her mere presence as an Israeli (playing for herself, not even on behalf of her country) would "antagonize" and "alienate" people and be insensitive of recent (political) events. By definition, you are politicizing sports; you are incorporating socio- and geo-political considerations having nothing to do with sport into decisions decisions about who gets to participate in a sporting event. And it is insulting and dishonest to claim otherwise.

This is not necessarily to criticize politicizing sport. If you believe that the actions of Israel are such that its citizens should not be permitted to participate in international competitions, make that argument; but acknowledge that you are being explicitly political--and take the hit when others respond to those political positions, as by (perhaps) pulling the event off the WTA schedule.

Interestingly, this whole thing might be repeated at next week's men's tournament. Andy Ram, an Israeli doubles specialist, still is waiting for his visa.


This is ridiculous. How about just instituting some extra security or holding your citizens accountable for their actions? I know, that's just so hard to do. (Insert rolling eyes here)

Blogger Pbenn001 -- 2/17/2009 8:54 PM  

I am surprised you guys haven't touched upon the Andrew Oliver case. Seems right up Karcher's alley.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 2/18/2009 9:03 AM  

It's further down the first page.

Blogger Pbenn001 -- 2/18/2009 12:43 PM  

Post a Comment