In news that is only tangentially related to racing, I noticed this item in Filip Bondy’s column in the New York Daily News:
Shahar Peer was supposed to play a first-round match Sunday in Dubai against Anna Chakvetadze, but that isn’t going to happen now. The Israeli tennis player wasn’t granted an entry visa by the government of the United Arab Emirates, leaving the Womens (sic) Tennis Association with a moral dilemma that pits a big-money commitment against good conscience.
Bondy goes on to note that after discussing the matter, the WTA declared its philosophical opposition to the decision of the United Arab Emirates government, then decided to proceed with the tournament because, in Bondy’s estimation, “too many tickets have been sold and too many dollars are on the line.”
This news creeps into our little world of racing because, as Bondy observes,
As the tournament literature proclaims, the championships are held “under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai.” No Israeli citizen has ever been granted a visa to Dubai, unless he or she held a dual citizenship.
No Israeli citizen has ever been granted a visa to Dubai.
We regularly hear in the racing world how the sheikhs are ruining racing by buying up three year olds and retiring them, and taking our bloodlines and bringing them overseas, and using all of their cash to buy all of “our” (?) good horses, and in general, I pooh-pooh that line of thinking. The sheikhs couldn’t do all of that without the direct participation of people in this country; if you want to blame the sheikhs, you better blame the U.S.-based owners and breeders, too.
As, in this case, we damn well better blame the WTA for continuing with a tournament that is based on hate, and for replacing the rejected Shahar Peer with a lower-ranked player.
There is some good news, though: in a remarkable and laudable display of principle over profit, the Tennis Channel has cancelled its coverage of the Dubai tournament, according to the crawl on ESPN this morning. I haven’t been able to confirm that elsewhere, but if it’s in fact true, I may well call my cable company and subscribe to the Tennis Channel. Other sports could have a lot to learn from an upstart company with much to lose, who placed the rights of an individual athlete above its desire to make a profit.