Wimbledon banned the participation of Russian and Belarusian tennis players in the 2022 event

The Wimbledon 2022 tournament, which will be played between June 27 and July 10, will not admit Russian or Belarusian tennis players, because of the sanctions imposed on those countries after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that sparked the war, Started on February 24. Although the presentation of the tournament is scheduled for next week, All England has already issued the official statement, in which it prohibits players of those nationalities from entering the main draws.

The decision of the Wimbledon organizers is a serious blow to the Russian’s ambitions Daniel Medvedev, number 2 in the world, who will miss the second Grand Slam in addition to other previous tournaments, since he underwent surgery for a hernia. But at the same time, The measure generated rejection on the ATP Tour, which questioned the measure arguing “discrimination based on nationality.”

Medvedev had spoken out against the war and his compatriot Andrew Rublev -who maintained the same position- said that “many criticize me just because I am Russian, but despite this I want to show that sport unites”. He reminds Rublev, in Dubai, of writing “No to war, please” on camera after winning a match. “I want peace in the whole world”, was content to say Medvedev, who is recovering from a hernia operation and is a doubt for Roland Garros.

Meanwhile, the Belarusian Victoria Azarenko, a former No. 1 and two-time Australian Open winner, was more outspoken. “It is heartbreaking to see how innocent people have been and continue to be affected by this violence,” the 32-year-old tennis player said in March. ”I have always seen Ukrainians and Belarusians as friendly and supportive people towards each other. It is difficult to witness the violent separation that is taking place today,” said Azarenka, currently 18th in the WTA.

Wimbledon, the cathedral of tennis that will close the doors to Russian and Belarusian tennis playersSteve Paston – Pool Press Association

The traditional Wimbledon tournament will begin on June 27, twenty days after the Roland Garros tournament, which -however- so far has not taken any position against the Russian and Belarusian athletes of both sexes who, on the ATP circuit and WTA, they are already playing without the flag of their country. As in the cases of Medvedev and Rublev, the prohibition to compete would involve Karen Khachanov, Aslan Karatsev in the men’s branch; and Aryna Sabalenka, Victoria Azarenka, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Daria Kasatkina among the women.

In this way, the All England Club becomes the first tennis organization to reject the Russians completely. Until now, the ATP and WTA tours and the International Tennis Federation have allowed players from Russia and its ally Belarus to continue competing, but they are prohibited from displaying their national flags or playing their national anthems. Additionally, Russia and Belarus have been sanctioned for team competitions such as the Davis Cup and the Billie Jean King Cup.

British sports minister Nigel Huddleston said last month that “absolutely no one flying the Russian flag should be allowed or authorised” in Britain, raising the idea that Russian athletes could be judged on their loyalty to Putin. The West has already responded to Russia’s invasion in other individual sports. Russian and Belarusian runners were not allowed to enter the Boston Marathon, which took place earlier this week. The Russian Paralympians were withdrawn from the Winter Paralympics shortly after the invasion began.

Rublev and a strong message making his position in the Dubai tournament clear: "No to war please"
Rublev and a strong message making his position clear in the Dubai tournament: “No to war, please”

“It would be unacceptable to ban Russian tennis players from participating in the Wimbledon tennis tournament,” the Kremlin considered on Wednesday, reacting to these reports in the British press. “Once again, they make athletes hostage to political prejudice, to political intrigue… It is unacceptable,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said. “Bearing in mind that Russia is a very strong country in tennis and As our athletes rank high in the world rankings, their exclusion will have an impact on the competition itself,” added Peskov.

This exclusion measure is likely to apply to all British grass-court tournaments this year. The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), which oversees major Wimbledon warm-up tournaments such as Queen’s and Eastbourne, said it would follow Wimbledon’s lead.

The Russian Daniil Medvedev, in his last participation in Wimbledon
The Russian Daniil Medvedev, in his last participation in WimbledonADRIAN DENNIS – AFP

“On behalf of the All England Club and The Championships Management Committee, we wish to express our continued support for all those affected by the conflict in Ukraine during this shocking and distressing time. We share the universal condemnation of Russia’s illegal actions and have carefully considered the situation in the context of our duties to players, our community and the wider UK public as a British sporting institution. We have also taken into account the guidance set out by the UK Government specifically in relation to sporting bodies and events.

Given the profile of The Championships in the UK and around the world, it is our responsibility to play our part in the widespread efforts by government, industry, sporting and creative institutions to limit Russia’s global influence through whatever means possible. strong possible. In the circumstances of such unprecedented and unwarranted military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefit from the participation of Russian or Belarusian players in The Championships. Therefore, it is our intention, with deep regret, to refuse entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022.

Ian Hewitt, Chairman of the All England Club, commented: “We recognize this is hard on the people affected, and it is with sadness that they will suffer from the actions of the Russian regime leaders. We have carefully considered alternative measures that could be taken within the guidance of the UK Government 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 players. (including family safety), we do not believe it is feasible to proceed otherwise at The Championships.”

If circumstances materially change between now and June, we will consider it and respond accordingly. We also welcome the LTA’s decision to refuse Russian and Belarusian player entries to UK events to ensure British tennis provides a consistent focus throughout the summer.”

“We strongly condemn Russia’s reprehensible invasion of Ukraine and stand in solidarity with the millions of innocent people affected by the ongoing war. Our sport prides itself on operating on the fundamental principles of merit and fairness, where players compete individually to earn their place in tournaments based on the ATP Rankings.”

“We believe today’s unilateral decision by Wimbledon and the LTA to exclude players from Russia and Belarus from this year’s British grass-court tour is unfair and has the potential to set a damaging precedent for the game. Discrimination based on nationality is also a violation of our agreement with Wimbledon which states that player entry is based solely on ATP rankings. Any course of action in response to this decision will now be assessed in consultation with our Board and member councils. It is important to emphasize that players from Russia and Belarus will continue to be allowed to compete in ATP events under a neutral flag, a position that has so far been shared in professional tennis. In parallel, we will continue our joint humanitarian support to Ukraine under Tennis Plays for Peace.”