After announcing their controversial decision earlier today, Wimbledon chiefs have been accused of discrimination after banning Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s Championships – direct sanctions due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This would mean players such as Daniil Medvedev, Aryna Sabalenka and Andrey Rublev wouldn’t be allowed to compete.
Wimbledon become first to sanction countries involved in war
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, Russian and Belarussian players have today been banned from Wimbledon – as well as all other British grass court events.
“After careful consideration, the LTA believes tennis must join many other areas of sport and public life, sending a clear signal to the Russian and Belarusian states their actions in Ukraine are the subject of international condemnation.
The continuing participation of [those] nationals at events risks providing a boost to these regimens when there is an unprecedented international effort to isolate them and sanction their actions.”
There were murmurs this was a possibility, after sports minister Nigel Huddleston said on Mar. 15 Russian players would need to denounce Vladimir Putin’s regime to compete this summer but SW19 officials decided it’d be unfair to do this when most still have family living in the country.
Medvedev, current world no. 2 and reigning US Open champion, last month said he was prepared to accept any future sanction applied by other countries – while refusing to get involved in the dialogue about whether those punishments would be morally fair or unfair.
They didn’t immediately respond, but the ATP have come out firing as they’ve shown their displeasure at the controversial decision in a statement:
“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.
We believe 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; has the potential to set a damaging precedent for the game.
Any course of action in response to this decision will now be assessed in consulation with our Board of Member councils.”
They also revealed nationality-based discrimination violates their own agreement with the tournament, stating player entry is solely based on ATP rankings.
You’d assume the same can be said for the WTA too. Up until now, players from both countries remain able to compete – just under a neutral flag.
Top 100 players – ATP and WTA – that will be affected
#2: Daniil Medvedev
#8: Andrey Rublev
#26: Karen Khachanov
#33: Aslan Karatsev
#44: Ilya Ivashka
#6: Aryna Sabalenka
#15: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
#17: Victoria Azarenka
#23: Daria Kasatkina
#29: Veronika Kudermetova
#31: Ludmilla Samsonova
#44: Ekaterina Alexandrova
#49: Aliaksandra Sasnovich
#73: Varvara Gracheva
#76: Anna Kalinskaya
#95: Kamilla Rakhimova
As this is a sensitive and developing issue, I’ll provide more updates on this when it unfolds. Morals and optics aside, there’s no reason to believe this is the last word.
Picture source: Getty Images