Wimbledon plans to bar Russian and Belarusian players

Officials at the men’s and women’s tournaments argued that Russian and Belarusian players should not be blamed for their country’s invasion or policies and pointed out that several key players, including Russian stars Andrey Rublev, took 8th place in the men’s singles, and Pavlyuchenkova herself demonstrated against the war.

“I feel very strongly that, once again, these individual athletes should not be penalized for the decisions of an authoritarian leadership that is obviously doing terrible and reprehensible things,” Steve Simon, head of the WTA, said in an interview with the newspaper. the BBC last month. “But if that happens, which again is part of the overall strategy of making Russia and Russian citizens pay the consequences of the decision their government made, then it will not be something we support.”

Wimbledon, the oldest Grand Slam tournament, is likely to be an outlier in this regard. The French Open, which starts next month and is the next Grand Slam tournament on the calendar, has not indicated it intends to bar individual players. Nor the US Open, which will be held in New York in late August and early September. For now, regular tourism events – like this week’s events in Barcelona; Belgrade, Serbia; Istanbul; and Stuttgart, Germany – are advancing with Russians and Belarusians in their draws.

But Wimbledon, which kicks off on June 27 in London, is under considerable pressure from the British government, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, to take a stronger stance. Nigel Huddleston, the British sports minister, told a parliamentary hearing last month that Russian players like Medvedev may need to provide “assurances” that they do not support President Vladimir V. Putin to play at Wimbledon.

But the tournament, arguably still the most prestigious in the sport, has apparently decided not to require players to denounce their governments for fear it could put them or their families in a precarious situation. The ban, while not part of Wimbledon officials’ initial thinking, would prevent players from making such a choice.

Wimbledon has not banned individual athletes from specific countries since the aftermath of World War II, when players from Germany, Japan and other nations were not allowed to play in the tournament.

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