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Wimbledon, ATP Tour at odds after tournament prohibits Russian, Belarusian athletes

Victoria Azarenka
Posted at 10:42 AM, Apr 20, 2022

Wimbledon officials announced a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in this year’s tournament, preventing several top stars from entering the tournament.

The move was due to Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. Belarus is considered a strong Russian ally and has helped Russia in its battle.

"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,” said Ian Hewitt, Chairman of the All England Club.

The decision drew the ire of the ATP Tour, which has allowed players to compete under a neutral flag.

"Our sport is proud to operate on the fundamental principles of merit and fairness, where players compete as individuals to earn their place in tournaments based on the ATP Rankings," the tour said in a statement. "We believe that today’s unilateral decision by Wimbledon and the LTA to exclude players from Russia and Belarus from this year’s British grass-court swing is unfair and has the potential to set a damaging precedent for the game. Discrimination based on nationality also constitutes a violation of our agreement with Wimbledon that states that player entry is based solely on ATP Rankings. Any course of action in response to this decision will now be assessed in consultation with our Board and Member councils."

The move prohibits Daniil Medvedev, the defending U.S. Open Champion, and the world’s No. 8 Andrey Rublev, from entering the men’s draw. The decision bans the No. 4 women’s player Aryna Sabalenka, a semifinalist at last year’s Wimbledon, from participating.

The ban also affects Victoria Azarenka, one of the most famous women’s tennis players.

FIFA, the governing body for international soccer, has banned the Russian national team from qualifying in the upcoming World Cup. Other international organizations have also barred Russian national teams from entering competitions.