Conflict ruining sporting dreams
THE GAZA conflict is wreaking havoc with Israel’s international sports ambitions.
September had promised to be a festival of sports in football, tennis and basketball, but many events are being moved away from the country.
Israel’s showpiece opener in the Euro 2016 qualifiers against Belgium at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem on September 9 looked likely to be moved to a neutral venue.
But UEFA have now agreed to postpone a decision until the end of August. UEFA executive committee member and former Israel FA chairman Avi Luzon said: “I am now optimistic the game will go ahead in Jerusalem if a long- term ceasefire is agreed.” All Israel’s clubs sides in Europe have already had to play ‘home’ matches in Cyprus.
In tennis, the inaugural Negev Open ATP tournament scheduled for September 15 in Ramat Hasharon, the first ATP tournament i n Israel since 1996, has already been cancelled. Israeli star player Andy Ram, due t o p l a y his l ast m a t c h i n t h e Davis Cup t i e, s aid: “I t ’ s r eally frustrating that the ATP cancelled the tournament six weeks before it was set to be held. I was involved in organising the tournament and I’m saddened by the decision. ”
Israel have already been told by the International Tennis Federation to move their Davis Cup World Group play-off against Argentina in Tel Aviv on September 12 to Buenos Aires or a neutral venue.
The Israel Tennis Association appealed against the decision, but on Monday it was rejected by the ITF.
Israel was forced to play i t s basketball Euro 2015 qualifiers in Cyprus, while the European ShortCourse Swimming Championships in Israel have been postponed until 2015, though the European swimming federation did not mention the military conflict in announcing its decision.
Angry: Andy Ram