Decision to Bar Spectators from Israel-Sweden Match Demonstrates Anti-Israel Bias
New York, NY, February 26, 2009 … Calling it a "blatant attempt to politically exploit an international sporting competition," the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) criticized the decision of a Swedish city council to use upcoming Davis Cup tennis matches between Sweden and Israel as a device to express anti-Israel bias.
After publicly noting that they would prefer to boycott Israel by canceling the match, city officials in Malmo, Sweden elected to bar spectators from the team competition, scheduled for March 6-8, citing "security concerns." Malmo's mayor, Ilmar Reepalu, was quoted as saying "we shouldn't have any matches with Israel."
"Sports should not be politicized, and the eagerness of Malmo city officials to use this tennis match to demonstrate their anti-Israel prejudice is a blatant attempt to politically exploit an international sporting competition," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Barring Swedes from coming to support their own national team in the most prestigious international men's tennis team competition shows how far Malmo city officials are willing to go to express their hostility toward Israel.
"In light of reports that local police did not see a problem with the event, the security concerns cited by the city council are merely an unconvincing pretext which cannot hide the true anti-Israel motives behind the city's decision," Mr. Foxman added.
The League also expressed disappointment that the International Tennis Federation (ITF) acceded to the political bias demonstrated by the Malmo city council.
"We hope the ITF will soon follow the example of the Women's Tennis Association, which imposed penalties on the promoters of the Dubai tournament where Israeli tennis star Shahar Peer was prevented from playing," Mr. Foxman said. "If the city of Malmo will not treat Israeli athletes with respect, no international sporting organization should sanction competitions there."
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.