WSJ pulls Dubai tennis sponsorship

United Arab Emirates denied visa to Israeli player

The Wall Street Journal's European edition withdrew its sponsorship of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Tuesday after the United Arab Emirates denied a visa to Israeli player Shahar Peer.

"The Wall Street Journal's editorial philosophy is free markets and free people, and this action runs counter to the Journal's editorial direction," the paper said in a statement.

A Journal spokesman declined to say how much money the Journal had planned to give to the tournament. The Wall Street Journal's parent company, Dow Jones & Co, is owned by Rupert Murdoch's international media conglomerate News Corp.

The women's open portion of the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships takes place in the Gulf state this week.

It is one of the Women's Tennis Association Tour's most prestigious events, but has attracted attention this year because of the UAE's decision to bar Peer from entering.

The UAE, like most Arab countries, has no diplomatic ties with the Jewish state and routinely denies entry to Israelis.

The tournament's organizers supported the decision to deny her a visa, saying local tennis fans would have boycotted the championships if Peer had been allowed to compete. Peer's presence would have antagonized fans who had watched recent television coverage of Israeli attacks on Gaza, tournament director Salah Tahlak said.

The three-week Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip killed 1,300 Palestinians and 14 Israelis. The attack, which ended in January, sparked outrage in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Israel said it acted in defense of rocket attacks from the Gaza strip.

The WTA meets next month to discuss the tournament's future. The Association of Tennis Professionals has said the men's tour would review the status of its Dubai tournament, which starts next Monday.