Russian and Belarusian players will not be allowed to compete at Wimbledon this year, which will run from June 27 to July 10 this year, due to the invasion in Ukraine.
Men’s world number two, Daniil Medvedev of Russia and women’s world number four, Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, are the highest-ranked players to be affected. The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), in a statement, noted that it has a responsibility to “limit Russia’s global influence through the strongest means possible”.
“In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players. It is, therefore, our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to Wimbledon.”AELTC statement
Sabalenka reached the semi-finals of last year’s tournament, while Medvedev, who has been announced as one of the star draws at the Grass-court Warm-up event at ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands on Wednesday, April 20, 2022, reached the fourth round. Russian world number 15, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who earlier called for an end to the war, and 18th-ranked Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, will also miss out. Russia’s Andrey Rublev is eighth in the men’s standings, with compatriot, Karen Khachanov 26th.
Rules of the Game
Only players are banned, which means coaches, umpires and physiotherapists can be involved in the tournament.
The Lawn Tennis Association has also banned Russian or Belarusian players from playing at any of the UK Grass-court tournaments. They will all still be able to compete at the French Open, which will commence in May this year (2022). Players from both countries have been allowed to compete on the tennis tour but not under their national flags.
This development has been criticized by Kremlin Spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, as he said “Given that Russia is a strong tennis country and our athletes possess top lines of the world rating, the tournament itself would suffer because of this ban. It is unacceptable to make the athletes once again hostages of certain political prejudice, intrigues and hostile actions towards our country.”
The Proper Consultations Made
The AELTC, organisers of the Wimbledon, consulted the UK Government in April 2022, about whether to allow players to compete.
AELTC Chairman, Ian Hewitt, said “We recognise that this is hard on the individuals affected, and it is with sadness that they will suffer for the actions of the leaders of the Russian regime”.
“Given the importance of not allowing sport to be used to promote the Russian regime and our broader concerns for public and player (including family) safety, we do not believe it is viable to proceed on any other basis at The Championships.”AELTC Chairman, Ian Hewitt
The AELTC is also working to withdraw TV rights from companies broadcasting in Russia and Belarus. Although the AELTC statement said the decision could be overturned if “circumstances change materially between now and June”, which is considered very unlikely.
A statement from the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), the sports governing body, noted that it is “important to do all it can to support Ukraine at this time”.
“LTA believes that tennis must join many other areas of sport and public life in sending a clear signal to the Russian and Belarusian states that their actions are the subject of international condemnation. The continuing participation of Russian and Belarusian nationals at events risks providing a boost to these regimes when there is an unprecedented international effort to isolate them and sanction their actions.”Lawn Tennis Association (LTA)
UK Sports Minister, Nigel Huddleston, welcomed the “decisive action” by the AELTC and LTA.
“The UK has taken a leading role internationally to make clear President Putin must not be able to use sport to legitimise Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine. Whilst the withdrawal of individual athletes is a complex issue that will divide opinion, there is a bigger cause at stake.”UK Sports Minister, Nigel Huddleston