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Nordic Federation supports Wimbledon ban, All England Club reiterates position, Italian government considers similar move

The battle lines continue to get drawn out over the ban of Russian and Belarusian players as the tennis federations of Sweden, Iceland, Finland and Norway issue a joint statement supporting the Wimbledon ban

Spectators watch the men's final on a large screen as they sit on Henman Hill at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain Spectators watch the men’s final on a large screen as they sit on Henman Hill at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain Image Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

The All England Club and Lawn Tennis Association has received support on its controversial decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from tournaments in the United Kingdom, including Wimbledon, from four Nordic countries.

The tennis federations of Sweden, Iceland, Finland and Norway issued a joint-statement saying they support the move which will not allow several players including Daniil Medvedev, Aryna Sabalenka, Andrey Rublev, Victoria Azarenka and several others from competing during the grass court swing in Great Britain.

“We, the undersigned federations, support the position the LTA and AELTC have taken regarding Russian and Belarusian players competing in events in Great Britain. In these exceptional times, tennis must do all it can to stand with the people of Ukraine against the hostility of the Russian and Belarusian states,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the All England Club have further insight into the difficult choice it made during a media briefing on Tuesday in which they laid out their plans for the 2022 Championships.

We believe we have made the most responsible decision possible in the circumstances, and there is no viable alternative…

Ian Hewitt, Chairman of the All England Club, said at the briefing, that the Club was left with no choice based on the directional guidance from the UK government.

“We believe this is an extreme and exceptional situation that takes us far beyond the interests of tennis alone. Government, industry, sport and creative institutions are all playing their part in efforts to limit Russia’s global influence including any benefit from trade, cultural or sporting shows of strength.”

“As part of that response, the UK Government has set out directional guidance for sporting bodies and events in the UK, with the specific aim of limiting Russia’s influence. We have taken that directional guidance into account, as we must as a high-profile event and leading British institution. For clarity, it does not allow for automatic entry to Wimbledon based on rankings alone.”

“After careful consideration against a variety of factors, we came to two firm conclusions that have formed the basis for our decision. First, even if we were to accept entries from Russian and Belarusian players with written declarations, we would risk their success or participation at Wimbledon being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime – which we could not accept. Second, we have a duty to ensure that no actions we take should put the safety or welfare of players, or their families, at risk.”

“We understand and deeply regret the impact this decision will have on every individual affected – and so many innocent people are suffering as a result of this terrible war. But, bound to act, we believe we have made the most responsible decision possible in the circumstances, and there is no viable alternative within the framework of the Government’s position to the decision we have taken in this truly exceptional and tragic situation.”

Will the Italian government follow the Wimbledon ban on Russian & Belarusian players?

While the ATP and the WTA Tours have been left grappling with how to deal with the fallout of the LTA decision, their problems could be further compounded with some reports suggesting that the Italian government is also considering following the Wimbledon ban and taking a similar stance with regards to Russian and Belarusian athletes.

If the Italian government does go ahead with a similar stance, Russian and Belarusian players could also be banned from competing at the Italian Open, a combined ATP-WTA event which begins on May 8.

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