UAE confirms Peer can play in Dubai
LONDON (AP) -- The United Arab Emirates provided written confirmation to the WTA that it will allow Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer to play at a tournament in Dubai next month.
Peer was denied entry into the UAE last year, apparently because of anti-Israel sentiments in the Gulf state following a three-week war between Israel and Islamic militants in Gaza. The UAE does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
"The tour has received written confirmation from the UAE Ministry of Interior that she will be able to enter and participate in the event without incident," WTA spokeswoman Katie Scott said Wednesday.
The Dubai Tennis Championships starts on Feb. 15.
Last year, the tournament was fined $300,000 for denying the visa and was made to promise to meet other requirements.
"One of the conditions that Dubai had to meet was that this year there would have to be a written confirmation that she would be able to play because last year there were just verbal assurances," Scott said.
The government of the UAE could not immediately be reached for comment, but tournament spokesman Ben Nichols said organizers "have received written confirmation from the UAE authorities that all WTA and ATP participants, without any exception, are welcome to play."
After the UAE's refusal to allow Peer to enter the country last year, Israeli player Andy Ram was given a visa to play the following week in the men's tournament. Andy Roddick, the 2008 champion in Dubai, skipped last year's event because of the incident involving Peer, saying he "didn't agree with what went on over there."
Earlier Wednesday, the 30th-ranked Peer faced more anti-Israeli protests at a tournament in Auckland, New Zealand. Police arrested one person outside the stadium while Peer easily beat Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 6-1, 6-0.
"I also want peace in the world but I don't think this is the place for this protest," the 22-year-old Peer said.