Shahar Peer to create history in Qatar
World no.17 Shahar Peer of Israel is set to create history as her appearance in the tournament will mark a new beginning in sporting relations in the Middle East where the strained the Israeli-Palestinian relationship have pervaded most aspects of public life.
The 20-year-old Peer is getting ready to play Italy's Francesca Schiavona in the Qatar Total Open, reported the local media.
Peer's decision to participate in the tournament has caught worldwide media attention with several leading publications and television networks giving her prominent coverage and speculating on the implications of her visit and arrival in Doha.
So far, the unofficial boycott had kept the Israeli tennis players out of the mega-money Gulf tournaments.
"We were welcomed very nicely and driven directly to the hotel," Peer told the Jerusalem Post. "I have a bodyguard watching over me and the Israelis living here are in constant contact with us."
"I have enjoyed my time here so far and I am always happy to travel to a new place. I am happy that I have got a chance to see a special country, which many Israelis have never been to," Peer was quoted as saying in the Gulf Times.
Qatar, bidding for the 2016 Olympics, obviously have no objections with Peer's participation.
Qatar tournament organisers and the Women Tennis Association (WTA) both have agreed to her participation.
"She's an entry. She is a good player. It's a normal situation and it gets a normal reaction from us," said tournament director Ayman Azmy.
Peer recently completed her mandatory military service in Israel, which in the eyes of militants makes her a legitimate target for violence.
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