Wimbledon has banned Russian and Belarusian players from its 2022 championships in the sports industry’s continued retaliation to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Daniil Medvedev, the men’s world number two, and women’s world number four Aryna Sabalenka are currently the highest-ranked players to be affected by the decision.
The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club stated: “We share in the universal condemnation of Russia’s illegal actions and have carefully considered the situation in the context of our duties to the players, to our community and to the broader UK public as a British sporting institution. If circumstances change materially between now and June, we will consider and respond accordingly.”
Ian Hewitt, Chairman of the Club, added: “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.
“We have very carefully considered the alternative measures that might be taken within the UK Government guidance but, given the high profile environment of The Championships, 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.”
This is the first time players have been banned due to nationality since immediate-post WWII when German and Japanese players were excluded, as reported by Reuters. Also according to sources, the decision has been condemned by some tennis associates.
The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) released in a statement: “Discrimination based on nationality also constitutes a violation of our agreement with Wimbledon that states that player entry is based solely on ATP rankings.”
The organisation explained that it will be evaluating its next steps and what actions may be taken regarding these decisions, adding: “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 stress that players from Russia and Belarus will continue to be allowed to compete at ATP events under a neutral flag, a position that has until now been shared across professional tennis,” it continued.
“In parallel, we will continue our joint humanitarian support for Ukraine under Tennis Plays for Peace.”
Furthermore, Novak Djokovic, men’s world number one, explained his view: “The players, the tennis players, the athletes have nothing to do with war. When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good.”
The World Tennis Association (WTA) also expressed a disapproval of the ban, concluding: “The WTA strongly condemns the actions that have been taken by Russia and its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. We continue our humanitarian relief efforts to support Ukraine through Tennis Plays for Peace.
“We are, however, very disappointed in today’s announcement by the AELTC and the LTA to ban individual athletes who are from Russia and Belarus from competing in the upcoming UK grass court events.
“A fundamental principal of the WTA is that individual athletes may participate in professional tennis events based on merit and without any form of discrimination.”