The AELTC announced a few weeks ago that they won’t be allowing Russian and Belarussian athletes to compete at the 2022 Wimbledon Championships. This was on account of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war where the UK government blamed Russia for disturbing world peace. The political tussle meant that Russian athletes were forced to skip the English grass-court summer season.
This decision was condemned by many as almost all Russian players have spoken against the war and are now unduly punished for the crimes they never committed. Even top players like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic spoke against Wimbledon’s ruling.
But in an interesting turn of events, the ATP has taken a firm stand against Wimbledon’s ruling and has decided to remove ATP points from the 2022 Wimbledon Championships. This means that no ATP ranking points will be awarded this year at Wimbledon.
“The ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination, is fundamental to our Tour. The decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the UK this summer undermines this principle and the integrity of the ATP Ranking system. It is also inconsistent with our Rankings agreement. Absent a change in circumstances, it is with great regret and reluctance that we see no option but to remove ATP Ranking points from Wimbledon for 2022,” the official statement read.
“Our rules and agreements exist in order to protect the rights of players as a whole. Unilateral decisions of this nature, if unaddressed, set a damaging precedent for the rest of the Tour. Discrimination by individual tournaments is simply not viable on a Tour that operates in more than 30 countries,” it further read.
‘Our condemnation of Russia’s devastating invasion of Ukraine remains unequivocal’: ATP
The ATP also reiterated the fact that their relationship with Wimbledon and the LTA is very good but explained the need for this decision. “We greatly value our long-standing relationships with Wimbledon and the LTA and do not underestimate the difficult decisions faced in responding to recent UK Government guidance,” he said.
“However, we note that this was informal guidance, not a mandate, which offered an alternative option that would have left the decision in the hands of individual players competing as neutral athletes through a signed declaration. Our internal discussions with affected players in fact led us to conclude this would have been a more agreeable option for the Tour. We remain hopeful of further discussions with Wimbledon leading to an acceptable outcome for all concerned. More broadly, we believe this matter again highlights the need for a united governance structure across professional tennis so that decisions of this nature can be made in a joint manner.”
They confirmed that the tune uo tournaments to Wimbledon- Queen’s and Eastbourne will have ATP Ranking points.
“Separately, as previously announced, we confirm that ranking points will remain at ATP Tour events at Queen’s (ATP 500), Eastbourne (ATP 250) and ATP Challenger events in the UK. We have taken this decision on the basis that alternative playing opportunities are open to Russian and Belarusian players in those weeks, unlike during Wimbledon, which minimizes any impact on the integrity of the rankings. Sanctions related to LTA’s violation of ATP rules will be assessed separately.”
Thye concluded by staying firm that the Russian invasion was wrong and the decision to suspend events in Russia was right. They also highlighted that they are financially helping Ukraine.
“Our condemnation of Russia’s devastating invasion of Ukraine remains unequivocal. Immediate action was taken to suspend the ATP Tour event in Moscow and have Russian and Belarusian athletes compete under neutral flags on Tour. In parallel, we have continued our humanitarian support for Ukraine, together with the other governing bodies of tennis, as well as providing direct financial assistance to many affected players.”
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