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January 7, 2014 0

United Arab Emirates Bars Another Israeli Athlete from Sporting Competition

dan-mori-eau

Dan Mori

Update: On Jan­u­ary 12, 2014, the Vitesse foot­ball team issued the fol­low­ing statement:

“In ret­ro­spect, dif­fer­ent orga­ni­za­tions have said there were options to make it pos­si­ble to travel to the UAE with Mori, who is Israeli. The com­plex­ity around orga­niz­ing travel to coun­tries with spe­cific entry pro­ce­dures in a short space of time meant not all the options were uti­lized. Vitesse regrets the com­mo­tion and offers apolo­gies to every­one who feels in any way affected by the deci­sion to exclude Mori.”

Once again, the United Arab Emi­rates has report­edly acted to pre­vent an Israeli ath­lete from enter­ing the coun­try to par­tic­i­pate in a local sport­ing event. Accord­ing to news reports, Dutch soc­cer team Vitesse Arn­hem was informed on Sat­ur­day that Israeli squad mem­ber Dan Mori would not be allowed to travel to Abu Dhabi for upcom­ing soc­cer matches, despite pre­vi­ous assur­ances that Mori would be admit­ted. Vitesse Arn­hem decided to travel to the UAE with­out Mori, a move that drew crit­i­cism from Dutch politi­cians and organizations.

The most well-known inci­dent involv­ing an Israeli ath­lete being barred from the UAE occurred in 2009 when ten­nis player Sha­har Peer was refused a visa to par­tic­i­pate in the Dubai Ten­nis Cham­pi­onship. As a result, a num­ber of inter­na­tional ten­nis stars, includ­ing Venus Williams, pub­li­cally con­demned the visa rejec­tion, and Andy Rod­dick, the 2008 men’s sin­gles cham­pion, with­drew from the tour­na­ment. The Dubai tour­na­ment was heav­ily fined for its actions. Although Peer was granted a visa to par­tic­i­pate in sub­se­quent years, her access and mobil­ity were severely lim­ited by the UAE.

A more recent episode occurred in Decem­ber 2013, when the Israeli under-18 chess team com­peted in the World Youth Chess Cham­pi­onship in Dubai. Accord­ing to reports, the UAE had ini­tially refused to allow the Israeli team to com­pete, but reversed its deci­sion after FIDE – the World Chess Fed­er­a­tion – threat­ened to nul­lify the tournament.

The dif­fi­cul­ties encoun­tered by Israeli ath­letes exist not just in the UAE but across the broader Arab world, and even when Israelis are per­mit­ted to par­tic­i­pate they often encounter severe prej­u­dice. An exam­ple of this occurred dur­ing the Octo­ber 2013 FINA Swim­ming World Cup tour­na­ment in Doha, Qatar, when orga­niz­ers report­edly removed an Israeli flag from out­side the aquatic cen­ter where the event was tak­ing place, and TV cov­er­age of a race involv­ing an Israeli swim­mer cov­ered over the Israeli flag on the screen. And dur­ing the same month, the Tunisian Ten­nis Fed­er­a­tion was sus­pended from the Davis Cup for one year after Tunisian player Malek Jaziri refused to play a Davis Cup match against Israeli Amir Weintraub.

Most inter­na­tional sport­ing asso­ci­a­tions require that hosts facil­i­tate the par­tic­i­pa­tion of all ath­letes, regard­less of eth­nic­ity or nationality.

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