UPDATE with statement from Wimbledon, 7:59: In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Belarus’ support for war, Wimbledon has banned Russian and Belarusian players from the Grand Slam tennis tournament, which begins June 27 in London.
The All England Club-hosted event breaks with the rest of the tennis world by refusing to allow players from those countries to compete, including current world number 2 Daniil Medvedev, who hails from Moscow.
Here is the full statement from Wimbledon:
On behalf of the All England Club and the Championship Management Committee, we would like to express our continued support for all those affected by the conflict in Ukraine during these shocking and trying times.
We share 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 general British public as a British sporting institution. We have also taken into account the guidelines set out by the UK government specifically in relation to sporting bodies and events.
Given the profile of the Championships in the UK 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. by the strongest means possible.
Under the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to benefit from the participation of Russian or Belarusian players in the Championships.
It is therefore with deep regret that we intend to refuse registrations of Russian and Belarusian players for the 2022 Championships.
Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England Club, said: “We recognize that this is hard on those affected, and it is with sadness that they will suffer from the actions of the leaders of the Russian regime.
“We have very carefully considered what alternative measures could be taken within UK Government guidelines but, given the high profile environment of the Championships, the importance of not allowing the sport to be used to promote the Russian regime and our wider concerns for the public and the safety of players (including family), we do not believe it is viable to proceed on any other basis at the Championships.
If circumstances change significantly by June, we will take this into account and react accordingly.
We also welcome the LTA’s decision to refuse registrations of Russian and Belarusian players to UK events to ensure that UK tennis provides a consistent approach throughout the summer.
Since the start of the war in February, Russian and Belarusian players have been allowed to remain on the ATP and WTA Tours, but without their national flags displayed next to their names. Players have been barred from team competitions including the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup.
Britain’s sports minister Nigel Huddleston said in March that “absolutely no one flying the flag of Russia should be allowed or permitted…We need potential assurance that they are not supporters of Vladimir Poutine”. At the time, Huddleston said he was discussing the matter with Wimbledon organizers, according to Reuters.
Although Wimbledon is the first major tennis tournament to ban individual players, it joins other sporting events such as the Paralympic Games which removed Russia and Belarus from competition. The Russian soccer team has also been made ineligible to qualify for the Men’s World Cup in Qatar later this year.
As well as Medvedev, other players affected by a possible ban at Wimbledon include world number 8 Andrey Rublev, who in February was filmed writing ‘no war please’ on the goal of a television camera after winning a game in Dubai.
Sportico first reported the news on Tuesday.
— Dr. Neil Pender BM MSc FRCP 🏳️🌈 (@DrNeilPender) February 25, 2022
On the women’s side, the ban includes Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Daria Kasatkina and Veronika Kudermetova from Russia, as well as Belarusians Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka, the latter a two-time Grand Slam winner.