The Wimbledon tennis tournament will ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it has been revealed.
Citing “someone familiar with the decision,” Sportico reports that players holding the nationalities will not be allowed to enter the tournament, regardless of their personal feelings about the war.
As we highlighted last month, British Minister for Sport Nigel Huddleston suggested that Russians would have to display their ideological conformity to the current narrative surrounding the conflict to be able to take part.
“We need some potential assurance that they are not supporters of Putin and we are considering what requirements we may need to try and get some assurances along those lines,” said Huddleston.
However, this option has now presumably been extinguished, with an outright ban being imposed.
The decision supersedes an earlier directive by tennis authorities the ITF, WTA and ATP which said that Russian and Belarusian players could continue to appear at tour events, but only as neutrals and without displaying national colors.
The ban will prevent world number two Daniil Medvedev, last year’s US Open winner, from competing at Wimbledon, which starts on June 27th.
Fellow Russian top 30 men’s players Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov and Aslan Karatsev will also miss out, as will former women’s world number one Victoria Azarenka and current number four Aryna Sabalenka.
The ban contradicts the statements of WTA chief Steve Simon, who last month asserted that individual athletes shouldn’t be punished for the actions of their governments.
“You never know what the future may bring. But I can tell you that we have never banned athletes from participating on our tour as the result of political positions their leadership may take,” said Simon.
As we have exhaustively highlighted, innumerable people, and even objects, have been cancelled because of their connection to Russia.
Earlier this month, a Swedish folk band was banned from performing at a benefit concert to support Ukraine because they play a Russian musical instrument, with outraged critics claiming the balalaika was as bad as displaying a Nazi swastika.