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Players Divided Over Wimbledon’s Ban on Russia and Belarus

Novak Djokovic

Players Divided Over Wimbledon’s Ban on Russia and Belarus

Novak Djokovic has pinned Wimbledon’s decision to ban all players from Russia and Belarus at this year’s tournament as “crazy,” while other players have come out supporting the decision.

The decision was made in light of the ongoing invasion in Ukraine, with concerns that the Duchess of Cambridge would have to present a trophy to a player from Russia or Belarus.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), which runs Wimbledon, released a statement saying it was their responsibility to act in a means that limits Russia’s global influence.

The AELTC statement read: “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.

“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.

“It is, therefore, our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to Wimbledon,” the statement read.

While Djokovic has spoken out against the war, he appeals that politics should not interfere with sport.

Djokovic said at the ATP event in Belgrade: “I will always condemn war, I will never support war being myself a child of war.”

“I know how much emotional trauma it leaves.

“In Serbia, we all know what happened in 1999.

“In the Balkans, we have had many wars in recent history.

“However, I cannot support the decision of Wimbledon, I think it is crazy. 

“The players, the tennis players, and the athletes have nothing to do with it (war). 

“When politics interfere with sport, the result is not good,” Djokovic said.

However, former Ukrainian player, Alex Dolgopolov, said it was a necessary sign for the Russian leader.

Dolgopolov told the independent: “Wimbledon isn’t going to stop the war, it’s just an extra sign of the world condemning Putin.”

“The more of these signals, if it’s tennis or if it’s Fifa blocking them from football, it shows people that Russia is doing something wrong,’ he said. 

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and ATP voiced their disapproval, stating that the ban was discriminatory and set a damaging precedent for the game.

An ATP statement said: “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.

“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 statement read.

The WTA also expressed their disappointment in a statement: “A fundamental principal of the WTA is that individual athletes may participate in professional tennis events based on merit and without any form of discrimination.”

Players hit by the ban include world number two Daniil Medvedev,  Andrey Rublev who is ranked number eight and Karen Khachanov who sits ranked 24.

As reported by the Guardian, three Ukraine players: Elina Svitolina, Marta Kostyuk and Sergiy Stakhovsky, have asked the Russian and Belarus athletes to denounce their government if they want to continue to compete at international level. 

The AELTC statement said it would retract the ban if circumstances in the Ukraine change by June.

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