Russian and Belarusian players have been banned from Wimbledon to stop Vladimir Putin’s regime scoring a potential PR victory, the All England Club said today. The Grand Slam event have confirmed that stars from the two countries will not be allowed to compete thai summer because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
All Russian and Belarusian players – including world No.2 Daniil Medvedev and No.4 Aryna Sabalenka – will also be forbidden from playing in any warm-up events in the UK.
The decision leaves open the possibility of legal action from the 17 players currently in the world’s top 100 from the two nations who will be denied world ranking points and money.
A first round loser in the singles last year banked £48,000 while the champions earned £1.7m each. Russian coaches and line judges will be allowed as they are less high profile.
The announcement is also set to upset the WTA and ATP as the two tours had strongly supported the right of individual players to keep playing under a neutral flag.
But with the war in Ukraine intensifying, the Wimbledon statement said: “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.
“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.”
Wimbledon ruled out asking players to sign private declarations stating they did not support the Putin regime to opt for the total ban. The sight of Medvedev or Sabalenka lifting the trophy would have been unacceptable to Wimbledon and the UK government.
All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt added: “We recognise 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.”
The statement did add, however, that “if circumstances change materially between now and June, we will consider and respond accordingly.”
In a co-ordinated announcement, the LTA said no Russians or Belarusians would be allowed to play in the grass-court events at Queen’s Club, Nottingham, Birmingham or Eastbourne.
And a statement insisted the decision would be supported by the British public. It read: “After careful consideration the LTA believes that tennis must join many other areas of sport and public life in sending a clear signal to the Russian and Belarusian states that their actions in Ukraine are the subject of international condemnation.
“The continuing participation of Russian and Belarusian nationals at events risks providing a boost to these regimes when there is an unprecedented international effort to isolate them and sanction their actions.
“The LTA also recognises that individual Russian and Belarusian players may not agree with the actions of their Governments and this is a situation beyond their control. Never-the-less the national governing body believes that it is important to do all it can to support Ukraine at this time, and that this move has the support of the British public.”