2024 Olympics bans chances for a Aryna Sabalenka-Andrey Rublev team in doubles as cross-pollination for Russian and Belarusian athletes discontinued, renowned tennis journalist reveals

Despite Russian and Belarusian athletes allowed as 'neutrals' to the Paris Olympics, they still have to cross many hurdles.


2024 Olympics bans chances for a Aryna Sabalenka-Andrey Rublev team in doubles as cross-pollination for Russian and Belarusian athletes discontinued, renowned tennis journalist reveals

Aryna Sabalenka and Andrey Rublev (via Imago)

A few months after the International Tennis Federation (ITF) permitted Russian and Belarusian players to compete in the 2024 Summer Paris Olympics, a recent clarification reveals that these players cannot participate together in the tennis division of the games.

ADVERTISEMENT

For context, following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, its tennis players were banned (including Belarusian players) from some tournaments, even some not being able to play in Grand Slam tournaments. But, in 2023, a relaxation of the rules to allow players from both countries to compete was put in place to let the smooth flow of the sport.

However, talks about whether Russian and Belarusian athletes will compete at the Paris Olympics lingered. In March this year, the ITF decided to allow both countries’ tennis players to compete at the 2024 Olympic Games.

For players like Aryna Sabalenka, Victoria Azarenka, Andrey Rublev, Daniil Medvedev, and Karen Khachanov, it was a big relief. However, as per Ben Rothenberg, despite both countries being listed as “neutrals”, Russian and Belarusian players in Paris won’t be able to cross-pollinate for doubles. Meaning, it has to be Belarusian + Belarusian or Russian + Russian and not Belarusian + Russian.

ADVERTISEMENT

Hopes of a Sabalenka and Rublev partnership in the tennis mixed doubles in the Paris Olympics have now been smashed with these new reports. But, that may not deter the two country’s players’ hope of winning a medal when the event kicks off in July.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo does not welcome Russian and Belarusian athletes despite ITF allowance

Despite the Olympic management and ITF allowing Russian and Belarusian neutral players for the Olympic Games, the Mayor of Paris doesn’t welcome them. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo recently told the press that they will welcome Ukrainian athletes and Ukraine people, but not Russian and Belarusian athletes.

Aryna Sabalenka (L), Andrey Rublev (R)
Aryna Sabalenka (L), Andrey Rublev (R) (via Imago)
I want to tell the Russian and Belarusian athletes that they are not welcome in Paris and tell the Ukrainian athletes and the Ukraine people that we support them and very strongly.
Paris Mayor Anne Hildago said last week to reporters

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022 and Belarus supporting the Russians, both countries have received stiff opposition from Western countries. Even to date, some tennis players do not shake hands with Russian or Belarusian players. Besides that, as the Ukraine conflict continues, there is a little chance that Russians and Belarusians will be allowed into the Olympic venues.

In case you missed it:

ADVERTISEMENT