Confirmed: Russian, Belarussian players to be banned from Wimbledon

Russian and Belarussian players, including Daniil Medvedev and Aryna Sabalenka, will not be allowed to play any event in the United Kingdom

Daniil Medvedev Wimbledon Tennis – Wimbledon – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain – June 29, 2021 Russia’s Daniil Medvedev i || 204033_0129 2021 All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club gazon grands chelems open sport tennis The Championships Tournament tournoi

Russian and Belarussian players will be banned from this year’s Wimbledon because of the invasion of Ukraine, the All England Club confirmed on Wednesday.

In a statement, the All England Club said it would be “unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with The Championships”.

Men’s world No 2 Daniil Medvedev, No 8 Andrey Rublev, women’s No 4 Aryna Sabalenka, former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka and French Open runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will be the highest-profile platers affected.

Daniil Medvedev at Wimbledon in 2021
Daniil Medvedev at Wimbledon in 2021 © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

“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,” Wimbledon’s statement said. “We have also taken into account guidance set out by the UK Government specifically in relation to sporting bodies and events.  

“Given the profile of The Championships in the United Kingdom and around the world, it is our responsibility to play our part in the widespread efforts of Government, industry, sporting and creative institutions 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 with The Championships.   

“It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022.

“If circumstances change materially between now and June, we will consider and respond accordingly.”

Aryna Sabalenka at Wimbledon in 2021
Aryna Sabalenka at Wimbledon in 2021 © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Though the British government had suggested a ban could be forthcoming, Wimbledon’s decision was still something of a surprise, since the ATP and WTA Tours have both allowed Russian and Belarussian players to continue playing tournaments, albeit not under their country’s flags. Russia and Belarus have been banned from team competitions by the International Tennis Federation.

In a statement of its own, the ATP said the decision was “unfair” and “had the potential to set a damaging precedent for the game”.

Wimbledon chairman Ian Hewitt said the club “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.” 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the BBC that “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,” he said.

Roland-Garros, which begins next month, said in March that it would allow Russian and Belarussian players to compete in this year’s event. Tennis Majors has contacted Roland-Garros for updated comment.

The WTA told the BBC last month that it believed the players should be allowed to compete without their national flag, and said it would not support any possible ban.  

Wimbledon is scheduled to take place from June 27 to July 10.

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