Wimbledon bans players from Russia and Belarus over Ukraine war – Reuters

Tennis players from Russia and Belarus will not be allowed to play at Wimbledon this year due to the war in Ukrainethe All England Club announced on Wednesday.

Among the prominent male players affected by the ban are reigning US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, who recently reached the top spot in the ATP rankings and is currently No. 2 and No. 8 Andrey Rublev. Players affected include No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka, who was a Wimbledon semi-finalist last year; Victoria Azarenka, a former No.1 who won the Australian Open twice; and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, finalist of Roland-Garros last year.

Medvedev, Rublev and Pavlyuchenkova come from Russia; Sabalenka and Azarenka are from Belarus.

Wimbledon starts on June 27. The All England Club confirmed in March that they had discussions with the British government whether the Russians should be able to play in the Grand Slam tournament on grass.

“It is our responsibility to play our part in the widespread effort…to limit Russia’s global influence by the strongest means possible,” the All England Club said in a statement. a statement first posted on Twitter. “Under the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players in the championships.”

Russian athletes have been barred from competing in many sports following their country’s invasion of Ukraine. Belarus helped Russia in the war.

Football, figure skating and athletics have all banned Russian and Belarusian athletes and teams from participating in their events due to the war. Russia’s national men’s soccer team was left out of World Cup qualifiers last month, forcing them to miss out on a chance to reach this year’s tournament in Qatar.

Wednesday’s decision marks the first time a tennis tournament has told players from Russia and Belarus they are unwelcome – and the ATP were quick to criticize the All England Club for that. which the men’s tennis circuit called a “one-sided” and “unfair” decision.

“Our sport prides itself on operating under the fundamental principles of merit and fairness, where players compete as individuals to earn their place in tournaments,” the ATP said in a statement, adding that the decision “has the potential to set a damaging precedent for the game.”

The seven groups that run the sport around the world decided on March 1 that players from those countries would be allowed to compete in WTA, ATP and Grand Slam tournaments, but not under the name or flag of Russia or Belarus. These two nations were also expelled from the Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup team competitions; Russia had been the defending champion in both.

The French Open, which begins on May 22, will be the first Grand Slam tournament to be held since Russia invaded Ukraine in February and is expected to see players from Russia and Belarus compete – as well as athletes themselves. saying “neutrals” who may not represent their country.

The US Tennis Association, which administers the US Open, said on Wednesday it had not made a decision on whether players from Russia and Belarus could participate in the final Grand Slam tournament of the year, which will begin on August 29.

The All England Club said that if “circumstances change materially by June” they would “act accordingly”.

“We recognize that this is hard on those affected, and it is with sadness that they will suffer from the actions of the leaders of the Russian regime,” All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said.

“We have very carefully considered what alternative measures could be taken within UK Government guidelines but, given the high profile environment of the Championships, the importance of not allowing the sport to be used to promote the Russian regime and our wider concerns for the public and the safety of players (including family), we do not believe it is viable to proceed on any other basis at the Championships.

Some current and former tennis players from Ukraine – including two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist Elina Svitolina and the recently retired Sergiy Stakhovsky – put up a statement on Twitter Wednesday, who called on the WTA, ATP and International Tennis Federation to ask players representing Russia and Belarus if they support the invasion of Ukraine.

“In times of crisis, silence means being okay with what is happening,” the messages said. “We noticed that some Russian and Belarusian players at one point vaguely mentioned the war, but never clearly stated that Russia and Belarus started it on Ukrainian territory.”

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