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Wimbledon defends decision to ban Russian and Belarusian Tennis Players

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Wimbledon defends decision to ban Russian - Belarusian players. Photo: MARCA
  • Wimbledon banned Russian and Belarusian tennis players from competing because they care about the safety of the players and their families 
  • The ban hinders world number two Daniil Medvedev, Aryna Sabalenka and others will to compete at Wimbledon
  • The organizers also stated that Signing a declaration would endanger the lives of the players and that of their families

Wimbledon organizers have defended their decision to exclude Russian and Belarussian players from this year’s tournament.

The All England Club stated that allowing players from both countries to play during the ongoing invasion of Ukraine – even with written declarations stating their anti-war stance – risked benefiting “the Russian regime’s propaganda machine.”

World no 4 Aryana Sabalenka will not compeete at Wimbledon due to the ban. Photo: WTA

” It also stated that signing such a declaration could endanger the players’ lives and their families.

Wimbledon decided to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing last week, citing government advice in response to the conflict in Ukraine.

The decision means that men’s world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, from Russia, and Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka, who is currently world No. 4 on the WTA Tour, will be absent.

“We believe this is an extreme and exceptional situation that takes us far beyond the interests of tennis alone,” said Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England Club. Government, industry, sports, and creative institutions are all working to limit Russia’s global influence.

As part of that response, the UK Government has set out directional guidance for sporting bodies and events in the UK, specifically limiting Russia’s influence. As a high-profile event and leading British institution, we have taken that directional guidance into account.

“Even if we were to accept entries from Russian and Belarusian players with written declarations, we would risk their success or participation at Wimbledon being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime – which we could not accept.

“Second, we have a duty to ensure that no actions we take should put the safety or welfare of players, or their families, at risk.

“We understand and deeply regret the impact this decision will have on every individual affected – and so many innocent people are suffering due to this terrible war.

“We believe we have made the most responsible decision possible in the circumstances, and there is no viable alternative within the framework of the Government’s position.”

Daniil Medvedev in Mexico

Daniil Medvedev will not compete at Wimbledon due to the ban. Photo/Surprise Sports

Hewitt and Wimbledon chief executive Sally Bolton stated that the tournament had held discussions with the affected players but would not be drawn on whether they were willing to sign a declaration opposing the war to play.

Currently, the ban only applies to players and not to any support staff from Russia or Belarus.

However, discussions with government officials about that stance are ongoing between now and the tournament. No Russian media will be allowed to apply for accreditation to cover the event.

The ATP and WTA have condemned Wimbledon’s stance on Russian and Belarusian players and have threatened to withdraw ranking points from SW19 and other grasscourt tournaments if the ban is not lifted.

“We won’t be speculating on what may or may not happen in the future,” Bolton said of the potential threat. We’re still talking to the tours daily.

We will continue to make a case for our decision. The tours recognize how difficult this decision was for us to make. Under the Government’s guidance, we are in a unique set of circumstances.”

 

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