Malek Jaziri, world number 169, couldn't step on court this morning to play his quarter-final match in Tashkent's Challenger against Israeli Amir Weintraub.The Tunisian tennis player was forced to give a walkover to his opponent as a consequence of the pressure done from the Tunisian Tennis Federation and especially by the Minister of Sport, Tarak Dhiab.
The reason behind this lies in the political stance of Tunis, which doesn't sustain any diplomatic relation with Israel. Hence, Minister Dhiab prohibited any match between Tunisian and Israeli athletes in every sport.
Furthermore, Malek had no way out because the Tunisian federation is also one of his biggest sponsors, and so he had to surrender to their decision.
On Tunisian radio station Shems FM later on during the day, Amir Jaziri, Malek's brother, stated that his sibling tried to make the federation aware of the possible sanctions that would follow his withdrawal, but the Tunisian Federation didn't give up. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) might indeed take serious measures on the matter in the future.
“Malek received an email from the Federation telling him they’ve met with people from the Ministry of Sport and they ordered Malek not to play this match." He said, “Now we are hoping that this will not affect his future. We hope the ministry can give us assurance that nothing will harm Malek but I guess they can’t."
The possible sanctions Malek might suffer include radiation from the upcoming tournaments and the loss of the ranking points gained in this one.
Originally written for the sports gazette