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Dolgopolov says Russian players must be banned: “this is mass murder”

The Ukrainian says tennis is too weak in its handling of Russian players in light of the invasion of his country

Alxandr Dolgopolov AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Former Ukrainian tennis star Alexandr Dolgopolov has called on tennis to ban Russian and Belarussian players from all events, including Grand Slams, because of their country’s invasion of Ukraine.

In an interview with French radio station RTL, Dolgoplov criticised organisers of the French Open, who said last week that Russian and Belarussian players will be allowed to play, and said tennis authorities in general “lacked courage” to take difficult decisions.

“I’ve told the ATP, tennis has a very cowardly attitude today,” said Dolgopolov, who has returned to Kiev to fight against the Russians.

“I think the tennis world is making a decision that lacks courage,” he added. “Russia must be banned from everything that is run by the free world because today, saying that you are against the war is not enough. Their sportsmen must condemn the government, recognise that this is mass murder, the biggest war since 1945.”

Dolgopolov: “Worrying about the French Open is a joke”

Roland-Garros organisers said last week that they intend to allow Russian players, including the likes of Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, and Belarussians like Aryna Sabalenka to play in Paris.

“We are imposing strict neutrality on Russian and Belarusian players,” said FFT director general Amélie Oudéa-Castéra at a press conference on Wednesday. “We only ban an individual athlete if he has been selected by his country. That’s the framework, we stick to it,” she said. “For the time being,” added FFT president Gilles Moretton.

Dolgopolov said tennis needed to take a stronger stand.

“They lack courage, they don’t want to take responsibility for any consequences,” he said. “Worrying about the French Open today is a joke, it’s not more important than the lives of thousands of innocent people. Tennis has a very, very weak position.”

“Russian athletes must condemn their government, recognise that these are mass murders”.

And the now retired Dolgopolov said Russian and Belarussian players needed to make strong stands against the war.

“I am pretty sure they are against this war,” he said. “But if they take a neutral position, like ‘I’m against the war’, it’s like saying nothing. ‘Leave me alone, I live my life in my corner, I don’t want to be involved, I just want to play tennis’. That position is not tenable today, sorry.”

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