Cape Town - CEO Richard Glover says Tennis South Africa
is aware a protest is being planned outside the Irene Country Club when South
Africa take on Israel in a Euro-Africa Group One Davis Cup tie on Friday and
READ: SA sports minister to boycott SA v Israel Davis Cup tie
But Glover emphasised that if the protest, ostensibly
against the Israelis over the country's conflict in relation to the combustible
Palestinian issue, was carried out in a peaceful and law-abiding manner it
would be acceptable.
At the same time, Glover revealed that TSA was
co-operating closely with all the relevant authorities over security
arrangements just in case.
If this was meant as a veiled warning to any zealots not
to take the law into their own hands, Glover added that TSA empathised with the
right of law-abiding and peaceful protesters to have their voices heard.
At the same time, Minister of Sport and Recreation Thulas
Nxesi, has made no bones over the fact that he was out to score a few hefty
points of his own and will boycott the event on the outskirts of Pretoria.
Nxesi says he is basing his decision, which will add fuel
to the simmering storm, on the numerous objections he has received from groups
opposed to Israel over the ongoing Middle East conflict - and his own personal
experience of being refused entry to Israel and Palestine in 2012.
Nxesi, better known as a politician than a sporting
authority despite his current position, has not gone as far as calling for the
tie to be called off as a number of radical organisations have suggested.
Also, in a statement TSA have dismissed the possibility
of this taking place, proclaiming the viewpoint "of almost 200 member
nations" affiliated to the International Tennis Federation that "the
very nature of sport is meant to bring people together and not divide
TSA also indicated that while they were fully
appreciative of the tensions and emotions of many surrounding the Middle East
conflict, no purpose would be served by linking the volatile matter to the
coming Davis Cup tie.
What has seemingly precipitated the extension of a wider
political conflict into the Davis Cup arena by numerous activists is the recent
provocative declaration by United States president Donald Trump to declare
Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in spite of Palestinian claims to the
ancient city as well.
In spite of worldwide condemnation of Trump blundering
into territory where angels have long feared to tread, no sporting action had
yet been advocated by any international sporting authorities as a response
until Nxesi took it on himself to serve up a blistering delivery - which even
the "hawk eye" technology introduced into tennis might have found
difficult to evaluate.
At the same time it has been pointed out that on the only
occasion South Africa won the Davis Cup in 1973 it was as a result of India
refusing to play the final as a protest against apartheid.
Meanwhile, amid the furnace of controversy, with TSA expected
to tighten security measures to a maximum at the Irene Club, Israel announced a
full-strength line-up for what should be a closely-contested tie - this in
contrast to South Africa who will again be without self-exiled number one Kevin
The Israeli squad consists of long-serving Dudi Sela, who
at 97th is the highest-ranked world player in either team, the burgeoning Eden Leshem, Igor Smilansky, Daniel Cukierma and
veteran doubles specialist Jonathan Erlich.