Wimbledon bans Russian stars 

A decision was reached this week after close to two months of discussions between the All England Club and the UK government.

Wimbledon bans Russian stars 
Wimbledon Open

Wimbledon organisers have confirmed that all players from Russia and Belarus will be banned from this year’s championships.

The likes of the world No 2 Daniil Medvedev and the two-times grand-slam champion Victoria Azarenka will not be permitted to appear at the All England Club this summer because of the invasion of Ukraine by military forces from the two aforementioned countries.

Wimbledon is the first tennis tournament to suspend Russians and Belarusians. As it stands, they are permitted to play on the ATP and WTA tours as neutral athletes, and have been allowed to put their names on the entry list for next month’s French Open.

A decision was reached this week after close to two months of discussions between the All England Club and the UK government.

Officials from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport had suggested that players could offer a written private declaration that they would not express public support for the invasion of Ukraine and the Russian regime, but Wimbledon organisers decided that a ban was more feasible because of the risks an effective denunciation could potentially bring to the players’ family members.

Advances by Russian forces in eastern Ukraine have also reduced the chances of a peace deal between Vladimir Putin and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in the coming weeks, so Wimbledon organisers concluded that it is best to proceed with a full ban.

This will also apply to the various warm-ups, such as the Queen’s Club Championships and Eastbourne International, after the LTA decided that a consistent approach was required across all tennis events on British soil.

 “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,” an All England Club statement read. “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.”

The decision will have significant ramifications, bringing to an end a united stance on this issue by the sport’s seven governing bodies. Last month the All England Club co-signed a statement that said players from Russia and Belarus would be “allowed to compete in international tennis events on tour and at the grand slams” as neutrals.

This is the first time that Wimbledon has imposed a ban on specific countries since competitors from Germany and Japan were unable to enter the tournament in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. Players from South Africa were allowed to play in the 1970s and 1980s despite the political pressure arising from demonstrations against apartheid.