RAMATTENNISThe inaugural Israel Open tournament has been cancelled after the ATP said Israel wasn’t safe to host the event.

Ramat Hasharon was scheduled to host the ATP World Tour 250 event between September 15-21, the first time Israel would have hosted a top-tier tennis event since 1996. Organisers had hoped to attract several big names, while there was also set to be $1 million of prize money on offer.

The ATP Board of Directors told the Israel Tennis Association of their decision on Monday, with Chris Kermode, the ATP’s Executive Chairman & President, saying: “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. 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.”

ITA chairman Asi Tuchmayer said: “We really regret the ATP’s decision. We did everything we could so that the tournament would take place in Israel. We had effectively finished the preparations. Ultimately, we hope that peace and quiet will return to our region, which is more important than any tournament.”

ITA CEO Shlomo Glickstein said: “This is a massive disappointment. We were given the tournament three months ago and we worked day and night ever since. We dreamed of the day that a big tournament would return to Israel and we are disappointed that it didn’t work out this year. We understand that the ATP’s role is to take care of the safety of the players and, considering the situation, we accept the decision.”

The tournament was set to start the day after the third and final day of Israel’s Davis Cup World Group play-off tie against Argentina, which initially set to be staged at Tel Aviv’s Nokia Arena, will now also be played elsewhere, with the ITA having put forward four venues: New York, Delray Beach (Florida), Krakow (Poland) and Tallinn (Estonia). A decision will be made on 11 August.

One of Israel’s star players, Andy Ram, is set to play his last match in the Davis Cup tie, and expressed his disappointment in the decision. He said: “It’s slightly frustrating that the ATP cancelled the tournament six weeks before it was set to be held.

“I was involved in organising the tournament and I’m saddened by the decision. All that is left to do is to hope that the Davis Cup tie against Argentina will be held in Israel.”