UPDATED with WTA, ATP, All England Club statements: Exactly one month ago the All England Club, which puts on Wimbledon, announced that in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine it would not allow Russian or Belarusian players to take part in this year’s event.
Today, the governing bodies of Men’s and Women’s tennis issued separate statements that come to the same conclusion: Wimbledon will be stripped of its place in the tennis firmament with regard to world rankings. Neither organization will offer points for success at this year’s All England Club event.
The ATP issued a statement that reads in part, “The ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination, is fundamental to our Tour. The decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the UK this summer undermines this principle and the integrity of the ATP Ranking system.”
The WTA took a similar tack, maintaining that “individual athletes participating in an individual sport should not be penalized or prevented from competing solely because of their nationalities or the decisions made by the governments of their countries.”
The All England Club and the Committee of Management of The Championships then laid out their reasoning which centers around protecting players and avoiding involvement in propaganda.
“We believe that requiring written declarations from individual players – and that would apply to all relevant players – as a condition of entry in the high-profile circumstances of Wimbledon would carry significant scrutiny and risk,” the statement reads.
“In addition, we remain unwilling to accept success or participation at Wimbledon being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime, which, through its closely controlled State media, has an acknowledged history of using sporting success to support a triumphant narrative to the Russian people.”
Players affected include US Open men’s champion Daniil Medvedev and highly-ranked women’s player Aryna Sabalenka.
Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have criticized the ban, which will impact U.S. Open men’s champion Daniil Medvedev and top-ranked Aryna Sabalenka.
Wimbledon begins on 27 June and concludes on 10 July.
PREVIOUSLY on April 20: In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Belarus’ support of the war, Wimbledon has barred Russian and Belarusian players from the Grand Slam tennis tournament, which begins June 27 in London.
The event organized by the All England Club is breaking from the rest of the tennis world by refusing to allow players from those countries to compete — including current world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, who is from Moscow.
Here is Wimbledon’s full statement:
On behalf of the All England Club and the Committee of Management of The Championships, we wish to express our ongoing support for all those impacted by the conflict in Ukraine during these shocking and distressing times.
We share in the universal condemnation of Russia’s illegal actions and have carefully considered the situation in the context of our duties to the players, to our community and to the broader UK public as a British sporting institution. We have also taken into account guidance set out by the UK Government specifically in relation to sporting bodies and events.
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.
It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022.
Ian Hewitt, Chairman of the All England Club, commented: “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.”
If circumstances change materially between now and June, we will consider and respond accordingly.
We also welcome the LTA’s decision in declining entries from Russian and Belarusian players to UK events to ensure that British tennis is delivering a consistent approach across the summer.
Since the war began in February, Russian and Belarusian players have been allowed to remain on the ATP and WTA Tours, but without their national flags displayed next to their names. Players have been barred from team competitions including the Davis Cup and the Billie Jean King Cup.
British sports minister Nigel Huddleston said in March that “absolutely nobody flying the flag for Russia should be allowed or enabled… We need some potential assurance that they are not supporters of Vladimir Putin.” At the time, Huddleston said he was discussing the issue with Wimbledon organizers, according to Reuters.
Although Wimbledon is the first major tennis tournament to ban individual players, it joins other sporting events such as the Paralympics which removed Russia and Belarus from competing. The Russian soccer team was also made ineligible to qualify for the men’s World Cup in Qatar later this year.
Along with Medvedev, other players affected by an eventual ban at Wimbledon includes world No. 8 Andrey Rublev, who in February was filmed writing “no war please” on a television camera lens after winning a match in Dubai.
Sportico reported the news first on Tuesday.
— Dr Neil Pender BM MSc FRCP 🏳️🌈 (@DrNeilPender) February 25, 2022
On the women’s side, the ban includes Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Daria Kasatkina and Veronika Kudermetova from Russia, as well as Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka, the latter a two-time Grand Slam winner.
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