UAE faces deadline on granting visa to Israeli tennis player Andy Ram

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February 19, 2009 15:29

 
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The Association of Tennis Professionals has given the United Arab Emirates a Friday evening deadline to decide whether to grant a visa to Israeli tennis player Andy Ram, the player's agent said. The small, Arab Gulf nation banned Israeli woman's tennis star Shahar Pe'er earlier this week from entering the country to participate in the lucrative Dubai Tennis Championships and has yet to respond to Ram's request to play in the men's tournament next week. Organizers said they feared fan anger over Israel's recent military offensive in the Gaza Strip would spill into riots if Pe'er were to play. The tennis world has harshly criticized the UAE for its ban of Israelis, with top past and present women players coming to Pe'er's defense - including Billie Jean King and Venus and Serena Williams. Tennis governing officials warned that holding future tennis events in Dubai could be in doubt if the ban on Israelis persisted. The ATP, the men's governing body, has said the UAE must "make the right decision" regarding Ram. The world's 7th-ranked doubles player is competing in a tournament in France and could not be reached for comment.

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