Wimbledon has confirmed that it has reversed its ban on players from Russia and Belarus and that they will be allowed to play in all tournaments in the UK this summer.
The move comes amid the threat of further fines and penalties for the two innings, which the All England Club described as a “very disappointing reaction”.
The British game found itself isolated within tennis due to the decision to ban them from competing a year ago.
In April 2022, the All England Club banned the team from the two countries that had conspired to inflict immense suffering on another important tennis nation, Ukraine.
However, his progress was not followed by further events, although tensions inevitably developed, within the women’s locker room in particular.
Players from Russia and Belarus will return to Wimbledon this summer after the All England Club reluctantly lifted the ban imposed following the invasion of Ukraine.
Fans at Wimbledon showed their support for the Ukrainian players last year
Players from Ukraine complained bitterly, and some of them refused to shake hands after matches if they met players from Russia or Belarus.
Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England Club, said the decision to overturn the ban was taken with reluctance and under intense pressure from the rest of the tennis players, who chose to turn a blind eye while Putin’s regime committed atrocities.
“We continue to condemn Russia’s totally illegal invasion, and our sincere support remains with the people of Ukraine,” he insisted.
This was a very difficult decision, taken lightly or without a great deal of consideration for those who would be affected.
In our view, given all the factors, these are the most favorable tournament arrangements for this year.
We are grateful for the government’s support as we and our fellow tennis authorities have navigated this complex matter and agreed on terms that we believe are applicable.
“If circumstances change materially between now and the start of the tournament, we will look into it and respond accordingly.”
Russia’s Daniil Medvedev is among those who will be allowed to compete if the ban is lifted
Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus is another player who is now allowed to return to the Wimbledon draw
A further statement from the All England Club read: “Our current aim is to accept entries from players from Russia and Belarus provided they compete as ‘neutral’ athletes and adhere to the appropriate conditions.
This will prohibit expressions of support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine in various forms and deny entry to players who receive funding from Russian and/or Belarusian states (including sponsorship from state-run or controlled companies) in connection with their participation in tournaments.”
The announcement was tennis’ worst in months, and is the result of a surprisingly tough line taken by the WTA and ATP Tours to protect its global membership tenet of being able to compete regardless of the sins of their governments.
The assertive stance of the corpses – who can hardly agree on such mundane things as toilet breaks – caught the British game by surprise.
The Wimbledon statement acknowledged: “There was a strong and extremely disappointing reaction from some tennis’ governing bodies to the position taken by the All England Club and the LTA last year.”
All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said the decision to re-recognize was taken with reluctance
It comes on the same day that the two Russians, Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov, will play each other in the semi-finals of the Miami Open, a reminder that it’s still entirely possible for two players from one country to play well. Wimbledon this summer.
Right now, the person most likely to step up to claim a trophy from the royal family is world No. 2 and reigning Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
What it removes is the threat of a repeat of last year, when ranking points were stripped from tournaments, which severely damaged the event’s credibility.
As revealed by Sportsmail last month, an important factor in the decline was the threat to tournaments in Britain outside of Wimbledon.
It was clear that if a ban was imposed, tournament licenses would be put on the open market with the potential for them to go abroad.
A statement from the Lawn Tennis Association read: ‘Our decision last year to ban Russian and Belarusian players from our tournaments has resulted in significant sanctions being imposed on us by both the ATP and WTA tours including the very real possibility of terminating our memberships if we wish. were to repeat the ban in 2023.
Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk refused to shake hands with her Russian opponent in Texas
This comes despite Russia’s continued destruction of Ukraine. Pictured is Mariupol
This means our professional tennis events in Queens, Eastbourne, Birmingham and Nottingham are canceled this year and indeed in the future. The effect of the LTA’s expulsion from the tours on British tennis would be very damaging and far-reaching for the game in our country.
Given this, and our responsibility as the national governing body for tennis in Britain, we have worked closely with the UK Government, the Tennis Association, the Tennis Association and the International Tennis Federation, along with the All England Club, to find a solution for 2023.
Our position in supporting the Ukrainian people in 2023 has not changed as much as our concern about the Russian and Belarusian regimes reaping reputation and other advantages by seeking to associate themselves with players.
Taking these considerations together, we have agreed that all Russian and Belarusian players and support staff who wish to participate in our events in 2023 will be required to sign declarations of neutrality. This is in line with UK government guidance and is an approach that has been used in other sports.
There will also be a zero-tolerance policy for any flags, symbols, or other actions in support of Russia, Belarus, or war from anyone on our sites, including players and spectators.
(tags for translation) Daily Mail