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Dubai facing Tour ban over visa row- 17 Feb 2009 00:00:00

Dubai is facing a possible ban from staging women’s tennis tournaments in 2010 after Israeli player Shahar Peer was refused entry to the United Arab Emirates to play in the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Women's Tennis Association chief executive Larry Scott said the women's tennis's governing body will consider ‘what types of sanctions are going to be deemed to be appropriate’. He said that would include ‘whether the tournament has a slot on the calendar’.

UAE officials have not given a reason for the move, but the country does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

The Dubai tournament is one of the most prestigious on the women's tour, with nine of the top 10 players competing this year.

The 21-year old Peer, who is the world number 48, was scheduled to play 15th seed Anna Chakvetadze of Russia in the $2m event.

But the 21-year-old's request for a visa was turned down as the UAE only allows Israelis with dual nationality into the country.

Said Peer in a statement: ‘I think a red line has been crossed here that could harm the purity of the sport and other sports. I have always believed that politics and sports should not be mixed.’

WTA rules state that no host country can deny a player the right to compete at any event on the tour for which she has qualified by ranking.

The International Tennis Federation, which organises the four Grand Slam tournaments as well as the Fed Cup and Davis Cup, said it would be in contact with the UAE's tennis federation.

ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti said: ‘The ITF will remind the UAE Tennis Association that the ITF Constitution does not permit discrimination on any grounds.

‘The ITF believes that sport should not be used as a political tool but rather as a unifying element between athletes and nations.’

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