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Wimbledon lifts ban on Russian and Belarusian tennis players

Russian and Belarusian tennis players can now compete at Wimbledon.

Under some circumstances, athletes from both nations will be permitted to compete as “neutral” competitors.

Wimbledon has reversed its ban on Russian and Belarusian players, allowing them to participate in the grass-court Grand Slam this year as “neutral” sportsmen. This is a backtracking from its initial response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Those who meet the prerequisites can participate in the event in July as players from the two nations. They include keeping silent about their support for the invasion and refusing to accept government funds from their respective nations.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), which oversees Wimbledon, said in a statement on Friday that competitors cannot accept sponsorships from businesses that are run by or under the jurisdiction of the government. For other British competitions, the same rules will be in effect.

Club Chairman Ian Hewitt stated, “We continue to strongly denounce Russia’s illegitimate aggression, and we continue to stand firmly behind the people of Ukraine.

The choice was “very tough, not taken lightly, and with considerable care for those who may be impacted,” he said. “They are, in our opinion, the most suitable arrangements for the championships this year, taking into account all variables,”

During the invasion of Ukraine last year, Wimbledon barred players from Russia and Belarus, a country aligned with Moscow. They claimed this was their only option under the direction of the British government. After implementing the strict restrictions last year, Wimbledon and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), the sport’s regulatory body in the UK, were subjected to severe punishments. Wimbledon lost ranking points and both organisations received fines.

According to the competition, the rules for this year were set in consultation with the administration.

The All England Club’s strategy was supported by UK Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, who stated that the government still held the position that Russian and Belarusian athletes representing their country should not be allowed in domestic and international sporting tournaments.

According to our guidelines on neutrality, individual, self-funded Russian and Belarusian athletes are permitted to compete in the United Kingdom, according to Frazer.

“The AELTC and LTA should never have been fined by the international tennis tours for taking a principled stand against Russian aggression,” she added. Both the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) praised the choice. According to the regulatory authorities, it took a concerted effort from all facets of the sport to find a “workable solution” that preserves the integrity of the contest.

The associations released a joint statement in which they expressed their satisfaction that all players would have the chance to compete at Wimbledon and LTA competitions this summer.

The ATP and WTA reiterated their strong rejection of Russia’s attack on Ukraine while saying, “This remains an extraordinarily tough situation. We would like to thank Wimbledon and the LTA for their efforts in obtaining this resolution.

The only Grand Slam to prohibit players from Russia and Belarus, which has served as a staging place for the Kremlin’s soldiers into Ukraine, was Wimbledon.

At the other majors, players participated in the tour as independent athletes without any national connection.

Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, two Russians, are ranked fifth and tenth, respectively, in the men’s rankings (7).

Aryna Sabalenka, a Belarussian, is ranked second among women globally. She became the first neutral Grand Slam champion after winning the Australian Open in January. The eighth-ranked player in the world is Daria Kasatkina of Russia.

The dates for Wimbledon are July 3 through July 16.

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