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Tennis Channel to skip Dubai telecast

Feb. 17, 2009 at 1:48 AM   |   Comments

NEW YORK, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- The Tennis Channel said it would not televise the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships because the host nation denied an entry visa to an Israeli player.

After the United Arab Emirates refused to grant a visa to Shahar Peer, Tennis Channel Chairman and Chief Executive Ken Solomon told The New York Times the channel -- based in Santa Monica, Calif. -- would not televise the tournament in Dubai.

"This is an easy decision to come by, based on what is right and wrong," Solomon told the Times from Utah. "Sports are about merit, absent of background, class, race, creed, color or religion. They are simply about talent."

Solomon called the UAE decision "a classic case, not about what country did what to another country. If the state of Israel were barring a citizen of an Arab nation, we would have made the same decision."

The $2 million tournament is one of a package of international tournaments whose TV rights the Tennis Channel acquired from the WTA Tour. The draw features nine of the world's top 10 ranked women players.

Peer, ranked No. 48, had been scheduled to play Russian Anna Chakvetadze in the first round.

WTA Tour Chairman and Chief Executive Larry Scott told the Times he had not expected the Tennis Channel to cancel its telecast but he said he understood.

"I'm sorry it was in the position of having to make the decision," Scott said. "We've got some of the same feelings but many more complications."

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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