London: The inaugural $1 million ATP Israel Open that had been scheduled to be held in Tel Aviv next month has been cancelled by the governing body of men’s tennis because of the conflict in Gaza Strip.
The ATP World Tour 250 event, which was due to take place from September 15-21, would have been the first high-profile men’s tournament to be held in Israel since 1996.
“We regret the ATP World Tour event in Tel Aviv, Israel, will not take place this year.
Sadly, we do not feel we can proceed as planned given the situation in the region,” ATP executive chairman and president Chris Kermode said on the ATP’s website (atpworldtour.com).
“Ensuring the security of our players, fans and all those involved in organising a world-class event, is our number one priority.
“We hope to be back in Tel Aviv next year. In the meantime, and much more importantly, we hope for a swift return to peace in the region.”
Israel launched its offensive on July 8 following a surge in Hamas rocket salvos.
Gaza officials say more than 1800 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed in the fighting. Israel has lost 64 soldiers in combat and three civilians.
European soccer’s governing body, Uefa, last month barred Israeli clubs involved in continental club competitions from hosting matches on home soil and they have been moved to Cyprus.
Asaf Tochmeir, the chairman of the Israeli Tennis Association, said he regretted the decision.
“We at the ITA have done everything to ensure a successful ATP event takes place in Israel,” Tochmeir said.
“We have raised sufficient funding and have taken care of all organizational requirements.
“On this occasion, I would like to express our most heartfelt concern for the soldiers as well as our condolences for the civilian casualties.”
Israel and Hamas on Monday accepted an Egyptian cease-fire proposal meant to halt a monthlong war. The conflict broke out on July 8.