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ATP cancels Tel Aviv return on safety grounds

ESPN staff
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The ATP Tour has cancelled the inaugural Israel Open that was set to be played next month in Tel Aviv because of security concerns "arising from the military conflict in the region".

The tournament was set to be held from September 15 to 21 and would have been the first ATP tournament held in Israel since 1996.

But amid Israel's military campaign against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, ATP President Chris Kermode said: "We do not feel we can proceed as planned given the situation in the region."

He added: "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."

The tournament was meant to replace an event previously hosted in St Petersburg, Russia, on the ATP calendar.

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 organisational 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. We hope to see a swift resolution to the current situation."

Israel and Hamas on Monday accepted an Egyptian cease-fire proposal meant to halt a monthlong war. The bloody conflict broke out on July 8 when Israel launched an air campaign in response to heavy rocket fire out of Hamas-controlled Gaza.

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