The All England Club announced, on Wednesday, that tennis players from Russia and Belarus were banned from competing in Wimbledon due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Belarus’ support for the ongoing war.
The ban would make Wimbledon the first tennis event to ban individual athletes from competing. Wimbledon is scheduled to start on June 27.
“Given the importance of tournaments in the UK and around the world, it is our responsibility to play our part in the wide-ranging efforts of government, industry, sports and creative institutions to reduce Russia’s global influence through the strongest possible means,” An official announcement said. “In the conditions of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to take advantage of the participation of Russian or Belarusian players in tournaments.”
Opinion: It makes no sense to ban Russian players, including the second, Daniil Medvedev, from Wimbledon
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The decision will affect several high-ranking players, including number two Daniil Medvedev (Russia) and No. 8 Andrei Rublev (Russia) in the men’s field, and No. 15 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) in the women’s field. Arina Sabalenka (Belarus) No. 4 and Victoria Azarenka No. 18 (Belarus) will be among the excluded in the women’s field.
Ian Hewitt, president of the All England Club, said: “We recognize that this is difficult for the individuals affected, and sadly they will suffer because of the actions of the leaders of the Russian system.”
“We have carefully considered alternative measures that could be taken under UK government guidance, but given the high profile environment of tournaments, the importance of not allowing the sport to be used to strengthen the Russian system and our broader concerns for the public and player safety (including the family), we do not believe it is possible to proceed forward on any other basis in the tournaments.”
“The Kremlin considers the exclusion of Russian athletes from Wimbledon unacceptable,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday via the Washington Post. “(The players) have once again become hostages of political conspiracies.”
When the war began in February, team events such as the Davis Cup and the Billie Jean King Cup banned the Russian and Belarusian Tennis Federations, but players from these countries could compete individually without a national identity. The French Open begins on May 22 and will allow Russian and Belarusian players to compete as neutral athletes.
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