Monday, February 16, 2009

Peer Denied A Visa To The UAE Is Not Surprising

I just wanted to comment about the incident that has been reported today in every news outlet about Israeli player, Shahar Peer, who was denied a visa to the United Arab Emirates, where she was supposed to participate in the Dubai Tennis Championships.

The outrage expressed by many towards what happened is not surprising but I would like to express my opinion just like everybody else has.

It is a beautiful notion to believe that sport can bring people together, uniting nations regardless of any political differences or events happening around the world, but unfortunately, there are things that are just bigger than sport, bigger than all of us and bigger than a player’s right to play in a tennis tournament she has qualified for because of her ranking.

The inhumane happenings that have occurred in Gaza last month are not something to be overlooked here, and the reason Peer has been denied entry to the UAE is because of country policy that is present for a very good reason.

We are all subject to circumstance, and circumstances right now simply do not allow for any exceptions, be it tennis or anything else, just like the Israelis made no exceptions when it came to killing mothers and children in Gaza.

I don’t understand why people are surprised, and why people are making a huge deal out of this. This is not a Grand Slam event and to be honest, I don’t get why Peer would wanna be in an Arab country in the first place. It is true that she was allowed to play in Qatar last year, but look what happened between then and now?!?! 1300 people were slaughtered in 3 weeks!!!

Every country has its own policy on whom to allow and whom to reject and numerous controversial incidents have taken place around the world. In most cases it’s not fair to the individuals themselves but let’s face it, the UAE has this policy for a very good reason. It’s not like the USA denying Amy Winehouse a visa to attend the Grammy’s a week after she was in rehab or like China preferring not to have Darfur activists (who were in fact former Olympic medalists) in town during the Olympics. This is the UAE following a policy to support Palestine in a situation that is far from being resolved.

And let’s face it, Arabs are not welcomed all around the world with arms wide open. For most Arabs, to get a visa (regardless the purpose of the visit be it business or study or pleasure) to a European country for example, it is actually an insanely meticulous and annoying process which more times than one could believe, ends with a visa application rejection. That’s just the way things happen, and the EU has its own reasons for rejecting those applications, and if certain circumstances changed, then such matters won’t be an issue anymore.

Peer’s case is not in the hands of the WTA officials or the Dubai tournament directors, it is in the hands of the country leaders and this could happen in any other country under similar circumstances.

I don’t think the tournament should be canceled because of this. It is a player’s responsibility to get the visa to enter the country where a tournament she wishes to participate in takes place; and if the player’s visa gets rejected then that’s life. She can take it up with the WTA to try and protect her ranking (if it will be affected) and should choose to play somewhere else.

I wish things were different and that everyone could be welcome everywhere, but sadly this is not the case in several places around the world, not just with Israelis in Dubai.


hcfoo said...

Well, after reading your post, I guess I respect your points too. There's just too much hype over this issue. Perhaps it's best for Shahar to just get over this tournament and move on to countries where she is welcomed. While I still think a player shouldn't be denied his/her rights, we just have to accept that this is a common practice e.g. Aisam a Pakistani has been denied an Indian visa for Chennai Open.

hcfoo said...

To correct the fact above a bit, the Indian authorities said they have revised their policy of issuing visas to Pakistan nationals after the Mumbai terror attacks. Hence, it is said that Aisam's visa has been delayed instead of being denied.

Reem said...

Hi hcfoo :)

You're right there is too much hype over this.

Let's see what will happen with regards to the tournament next year.