The tennis player Daniil Medvedevcurrent world number two, could not participate in Wimbledon this year, according to the British newspaper The Times, as the organizers want to exclude Russian and Belarusian players due to the invasion of Ukraine for Russia.
Since the beginning of the Russian offensive on February 24, Russian and Belarusian tennis players have been able to continue to participate in the ATP and WTA competitions with a neutral flag.
This device should be extended to the three tournaments of the Grand Slam to play in 2022, although the International Federation (ITF) has prohibited the teams of the two countries from participating in the Davis cup and in the Billie Jean King Cup (former Federation Cup).
It would be “unacceptable” to ban Russian tennis players from participating in the Wimbledon tennis tournament, the Kremlin considered on Wednesday, reacting to these reports in the British press.
Once again, they make athletes hostage to political prejudice, to political intrigue… It is unacceptable,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said.
“Considering that Russia is a very strong country in tennis and that our athletes are at the top of the world rankings, their exclusion will have an impact on the competition itself,” Peskov added.
Some sources told the Times that after two months of talks, Wimbledon organizers have preferred to ban the participation of Russian and Belarusian players rather than stick to a compromise solution proposed by the British government.
These negotiations sought to get these players, including Medvedev and last year’s Wimbledon women’s singles semifinalist, Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, to sign a statement that they would not make favorable comments to the Russian president. Vladimir Putin.
Wimbledon organizers believe that signing such declarations could have a negative impact on the players’ families.
This exclusionary measure is likely to apply to all British grass-court tournaments this year. The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), which oversees major Wimbledon warm-up tournaments such as Queen’s or Eastbourne, said it would follow Wimbledon’s example.
“An alignment is necessary [entre el All England Club y la LTA]to make it clear and understood,” said Scott Lloyd, CEO of the LTA. “It’s of paramount importance.”
The Russian and Belarusian players have been discreet in their condemnation of the conflict, although the Russian Andrey Rubleveighth in the world, will launch “no war please” in a television camera during a competition in Dubai, shortly after the start of the invasion.
I want peace in the whole world”, was content to say Medvedev, who is currently recovering from a hernia operation and is a doubt for Roland-Garros.
The Belarusian Victoria Azarenkaformer world number one and two-time winner of the Australian Open, was more frank. “It is heartbreaking to see how innocent people have been and continue to be affected by this violence,” the 32-year-old tennis player said in March.
“I have always seen Ukrainians and Belarusians as friendly and supportive people with each other. It is difficult to witness the violent separation that takes place today,” said Azarenka, current 18th in the WTA.
Belarus is considered an ally of Russia and has facilitated the invasion, allowing troops to cross its border with Ukraine.
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