Morocco team snubs Israel in wheelchair tennis world cup

Morocco team snubs Israel in wheelchair tennis world cup
Israel's wheelchair tennis team were left furious after a match against Morocco was cancelled when the opposition team didn't show up, with many believing it to be a political act.
2 min read
27 May, 2016
Israeli wheelchair tennis player Noam Gershony at the London 2012 paralympic games [Getty]

Morocco's wheelchair tennis team were a no-show for a match scheduled against Israel as part of the World Team Cup in the Ariake Colosseum, Tokyo on Thursday.

The two countries were set to meet in the Men's World Group 2 tie for positions 5-8. However, the clash was forfeited due to the absence of the Moroccan team. 

"This is a sad day for sports, and an even sadder day for paralympic sports," Israeli coach Nimrod Bichler was quoted by the Jerusalem Post as having said.

"Politics have mixed with sports in the past, but paralympic sports were always different," he continued.

The World Team Cup is the International Tennis Federation's main wheelchair tennis event, often referred to as the equivalent of the Davis or Fed Cup.

Initiated in 1985, the event has run for over 30 years, running divisions for men, women and juniors.

As of yet, the Moroccan team have not commented on their failure to turn up on Thursday,the Israeli team have clearly taken this as an instance of politics spilling into sports.

Arab sports teams frequently boycott games against Israel, due to the latter's occupation of Palestinian territories.

Meanwhile, the tennis federation issued a statement that alluded to a political message behind the snub.

"The ITF was established to, among other things, preserve the integrity and independence of tennis as a sport, and to do so without unfair discrimination on the grounds of colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or religion," the sport's governing body told the Jerusalem Post.

The ITF is investigating the cause of the no-show and will decided what action to take after the reasons become clearer.

Morocco and Israel do not share official diplomatic relations, but in 1994 bilateral liasion offices were established in both countries. These were closed in 2000 following an intensification of Palestinian-Israeli violence.

In 2013, Morocco's legislature tried to pass a bill criminalising any attempt to normalise relations with Israel, however, it did not become law.