Ram and Erlich to play in Thailand Open

Tournament organizers insist event will not be disrupted by military coup.

By GRANT CLARK
September 21, 2006 05:42
2 minute read.
Ram and Erlich to play in Thailand Open

ram erlich 88. (photo credit: )

 
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Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich decided on Wednesday to take part in the ATP tournament in Bangkok next week, despite the political unrest in Thailand. The Israeli doubles team was considering of canceling its participation in the tournament due to Tuesday night's military coup. However, the duo confirmed on Wednesday that they will play in the Thailand Open. "We are not scared," Erlich said. "We will fly out on Friday morning and we will try and improve on our final appearance from last year." On Wednesday organizers said the tournament, which will feature top-10 tennis players Marcos Baghdatis and James Blake, won't be disrupted by the situation in the country. Thailand's military and police forces seized power without meeting any resistance and announced the ouster of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The US, Australia and the UK have issued travel alerts, warning their citizens to avoid visiting the country or exercise caution if already there. The September 24 - October 1 Thailand Open, part of the men's tour, remains "on schedule," said tournament manager Stuart Mac-Donnell. Britain's Andy Murray and Australia's Lleyton Hewitt are also scheduled to play at the $550,000 event. "We expect in a day or two everything will be back to normal," MacDonnell said in a phone interview from Bangkok. "At this stage everything is on schedule and basically today, while government and schools are closed, everything else is running as normal." Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said "we strongly advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Thailand'' in a statement on its Web site. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the US Embassy in Bangkok advised citizens to avoid large crowds and monitor the news. Baghdatis, who won the China Open three days ago, arrived in Thailand Tuesday night, MacDonnell said, adding that the only difference with a regular public holiday in Bangkok is that people are having photos taken in front of tanks. "I understand when people see the headlines overseas about a military coup," MacDonnell said. "The perception is one thing, the reality is not like that. We have one every 15 years or so." Defending champion Roger Federer, the world No. 1, isn't playing in Bangkok this year. The 2006 field includes Britain's Tim Henman, Russia's Marat Safin, Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia and Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero. Thailand, a constitutional monarchy, has had 17 coups in the past 60 years. A caretaker cabinet has ruled the country since February. Allon Sinai contributed to this report.

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