opposition from players, possible sanctions from the ATP and the WTA… What you need to know about the exclusion of Russian and Belarusian players from the tournament

On the hushed courts of Wimbledon, there will be no Russian and Belarusian players from June 27 to July 10. Due to the war in Ukraine and in agreement with the British government, the organizers have decided to exclude some of the best tennis players in the world, including world number 2, Daniil Medvedev and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, fifteenth. A first in the ATP and WTA circuits.

The two institutions have already expressed their opposition and could take sanctions against the tournament in the coming days. Summary of a situation where politics has taken precedence over sportsmanship.

From “assurances” requested from the Russians until their exclusion, Wimbledon hits hard

“Under the circumstances of unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefit from the participation of Russian or Belarusian players”explains the All England Lawn Tennis Club in a press release. “We therefore intend, with deep regret, to reject the registration of Russian and Belarusian players at Wimbledon.”

The British government originally intended to seek “assurances” from the Russians that they would not support Vladimir Putin, but the tournament went even further. The organizers have therefore decided to exclude Russian and Belarusian players from the tournament. There will be no exceptions, not even for world number 2 Daniil Medvedev. Andrey Rublev (8th), Karen Khachanov (26th), Aslan Karatsev (30th) are also concerned. Among women Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (15th), Daria Kasatkina (26th) Veronika Kudermetova (29th), Liudmila Samsonova (31st) will also not be able to line up.

The ATP and WTA could take sanctions against the tournament

Until now, the ATP and WTA tournaments had been content to impose a neutral banner. Russian and Belarusian players have also already been excluded from team competitions. The WTA has declared itself “very disapointed” of the announcement made by Wimbledon that it considers “neither fair nor justified”.

“We are very disappointed with Wednesday’s announcement (…) Athletes should not be penalized or banned from competition depending on where they come from and according to the decisions taken by the governments of their countriesunderlined the ATP in a press release. Discrimination based on nationality is also a breach of our agreements with Wimbledon under which a player’s participation is based solely on their ranking.”adds the text.

The two institutions will meet in Madrid to consider possible sanctions against the tournament. They could thus remove the points from their classification at Wimbledon.

Russian players are up against the decision

The Russian Andrey Rublev estimated, Thursday, April 24, that this exclusion was “totally discriminatory”. “The reasons they [Wimbledon] gave us had, how to say, no sense, they were not logical”said the world number 8 on the sidelines of the ATP 250 tournament in Belgrade. “Giving tournament prizes to humanitarian aid, to families who are suffering, to children who are suffering, that’s something that would have a bit of an impact”added the player who had written “No war please” on a television camera during a competition in Dubai just after the invasion. “For me, it’s the most important tournament in the world. And it’s also special for me because I played in the quarter-finals there last season,” explained for his part Karen Khachanov, 26th player in the world.

The Belarusian Tennis Federation, for its part, expressed in a statement on Thursday that this decision was only“incite hatred and intolerance”. The Kremlin called the decision “unacceptable” and calling its athletes“hostages of political prejudice”.

Divided reactions within the tennis community

In a statement, published on her social networks alongside other Ukrainian players, former world number 5 Elina Svitolina called for the exclusion from the professional tennis circuits of all Russians and Belarusians who do not publicly oppose to the conflict. “It is important for us that there are no murderers of our country among us.” The old 13and world, Alex Dolgopolov, returned to kyiv for a few weeks already to defend his country, also reacted on his twitter account. “Silence, or simply saying ‘no war’ is no longer enough. The Russian people must condemn this mass murder of civilians.”

But on the international side, the decision is not unanimous. Novak Djokovic was quick to comment on the Wimbledon affair, calling the decision a “crazy”. Former world number one Martina Navratilova didn’t mince words either: “I hope this is just an isolated incident and there will be no escalation. This decision was taken in a vacuum by the All England Club.” In the aftermath, the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) opposed the decision and wanted to recall that many professional players have “lost their freedom of expression” and cannot comment on the war in Ukraine.

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