Russian and Belarusian players will not be allowed to participate in this year’s Wimbledon tennis championship in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“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,” the All England Lawn Tennis Club and the committee of management of the championships, said in a statement on Wednesday.
“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,” the statement added.
The ban means that men’s world number two Daniil Medvedev of Russia and women’s world number four Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus will not feature in the championship. In addition, the Lawn Tennis Association, the governing body of the sport in the U.K., will not allow Russian or Belarusian participation in other U.K. events.
Ian Hewitt, chair of the All England Club, said: “We recognize 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.”
“If circumstances change materially between now and June, we will consider and respond accordingly,” Hewitt added.
Speaking out against the ban, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said: “Given that Russia is a strong tennis country and our athletes possess top lines of the world rating, 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.”
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