As the crackdown on all things Russian continues with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the Wimbledon tennis tournament is set to ban all Russian and Belarusian players from competing in response to the Russian invasion.
The tournament, held annually at the All England Club in London, will follow other organizations in banning Russian and Belarusian competitors from events.
The All England Club released a statement on Wednesday confirming the decision, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The statement claimed that it would be inappropriate for the tournament to have involvement with Russian or Belarusian players.
“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.”
At the onset of the conflict, Russian tennis players had been allowed to participate in ATP and WTA Tours. Last month, British sports minister Nigel Huddleston suggested that the world’s number one player, Daniil Medvedev, alongside other Russian players, be banned unless he spoke out against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We need some potential assurance that they are not supporters of Putin and we are considering what requirements we may need to try and get some assurances along those lines,” said Huddleston at the time.
As reported by Sportico, it was not clear if the ban would equally apply to Belarusian athletes, who have also been barred from other professional sports competitions due to the country’s close ties with Russia. But the statement from All England Club makes it clear that both Russians and Belarusians will not be allowed to compete.
The decision overrides an earlier directive by tennis authorities, the ITF, ATP, and WTA, which said that Russian and Belarusian players could continue to appear at tour events, but only in a neutral capacity without representing their country.
The ban will now exclude Daniil Medvedev, alongside other top 30 men’s players Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov, and Aslan Karatsev. Former women’s world number one champion Victoria Azarenka and current number four Aryna Sabalenka are also banned from participating.
Earlier this week, the Boston Marathon banned Russian and Belarusian runners from participating in the yearly event, and the Russian football team was removed from qualifying for the men’s world cup set to be held in Qatar later this year.