Wimbledon Removes Ban On Russians And Allows Them To Compete As Neutrals – NBC Los Angeles

Russian and Belarusian players will be allowed to compete at Wimbledon as neutral athletes after the All England Club on Friday overturned its ban from last year.

Players must sign declarations of neutrality and meet “appropriate conditions”, including not expressing support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision, one not made lightly or without much consideration for those who will be affected,” All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said in a statement.

Players may not receive funding from the Russian or Belarusian states, including sponsorship from companies operated or controlled by the states.

Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and Russian players Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev are among the players allowed to return.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba condemned the change as “immoral.”

“Has Russia stopped its aggression or its atrocities? No, it’s that Wimbledon decided to accommodate two accomplices in crime. I call on the UK government to deny visas to their players,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter.


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Other tennis tournaments have allowed Russian and Belarusian players to compete as neutral athletes: their nationalities are not listed in parentheses, official results or charts on TV broadcasts of matches. But, as in other team sports, the International Tennis Federation did not allow Russia and Belarus to participate in the Billie Jean King Cup or the Davis Cup.

“We also believe that the lineup between the Grand Slams is increasingly important in the current tennis environment,” the All England Club said.

The same conditions will apply to Lawn Tennis Association tournaments used by players as a grass-court warm-up for the oldest Grand Slam tournament in the sport.

The women’s and men’s professional tennis tours last year imposed heavy fines on the LTA and threatened to cancel their tournaments. The effect of being banned from touring, the LTA said, “would be very damaging and far-reaching to the game in our country.”

The ATP and WTA also responded to last year’s ban by not awarding ranking points for Wimbledon, an unprecedented move against the prestigious event.

“There was a strong and very disappointing reaction from some tennis governing bodies to the position taken by the All England Club and the LTA last year with consequences which, if continued, would be detrimental to the interests of players, fans, The Championships and British tennis,” the club said.

This year’s Wimbledon tournament will begin on July 3. The women’s final is scheduled for July 15 and the men’s final on July 16.

The All England Club said the terms were developed through discussions with the British government, the LTA and “international tennis stakeholder bodies”.

The club’s statement described “personal statements by players” but did not provide details. The LTA said players and support staff “will be required to sign declarations of neutrality” similar to those used in other sports.

In a joint statement, the ATP and WTA said they were pleased with the result.

“It has taken a collaborative effort across the sport to come up with a viable solution, one that protects the fairness of the game,” the tours said. “This remains an extremely difficult situation, and we would like to thank Wimbledon and the LTA for their efforts to achieve this result, while reiterating our unequivocal condemnation of Russia’s war against Ukraine.”