Israel's Ram given Dubai visa
Thursday 19 February 2009
The United Arab Emirates confirmed it would let Israel's Andy Ram play in next week's men's Dubai Tennis Championships, the state news agency WAM said today.
A UAE foreign ministry official was quoted as saying the doubles specialist would be given "special permission" to take part in the tournament.
Top Israeli player Shahar Peer had to forfeit her place in this week's women's tournament in Dubai after the UAE blocked her visa application.
The UAE, like most Arab countries, has no diplomatic ties with Israel and routinely denies entry to Israelis.
Tensions have been heightened after the three-week Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip, which killed 1,300 Palestinians and 14 Israelis. Although the conflict ended in January it caused deep anger around the Arab and Muslim worlds.
After players, officials, Jewish leaders and even some sponsors condemned the UAE for excluding Peer, pressure had been mounting on the men's ATP tournament to be cancelled if Ram had also been denied entry.
Before Ram's entry had been confirmed, Women's Tennis Association chief Larry Scott told Reuters: "I would be very pleased that if as a result of this awful situation some good could possibly come out of it, where that is a revision to the decision of their (UAE's) policy.
"I've always believed that sport should be separate from politics and political intervention.
"If that (Ram being granted a visa) winds up being the outcome, then that would be a very positive thing."
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