Wimbledon lifts its ban on Russian and Belarusian players following massive international pressure

Wimbledon lifts ban on the Russian and Belarusian players amidst pressures from all around.


Wimbledon lifts its ban on Russian and Belarusian players following massive international pressure

Wimbledon

Following pressure from the tennis tours, the All England Club has lifted its ban on Russian players entering Wimbledon this year. However, players will be required to compete under a neutral flag and any expression of support for the invasion will result in their expulsion from the tournament. Authorities are seeking the ability to guarantee strict enforcement of this neutrality during the upcoming summer.

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After being banned last summer due to Russia’s war against Ukraine, players from Russia and its ally Belarus, including former men’s world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev and Australian Open women’s champion Aryna Sabalenka, will now make a comeback, subject to strict conditions. This is great news for all tennis fans across the globe considering the events that happened last year.

The reversal of the ban occurred following the removal of Wimbledon’s rankings points by the men’s and women’s tours last year, along with a fine issued to the Lawn Tennis Association and the threat of losing their license to host tournaments like Queen’s and Eastbourne. Wimbledon officials aim to obtain the authority to ensure that the players adhere to neutrality requirements before making a final decision, which is anticipated next month.

While Russian players are not required to publicly declare their opposition to the Ukrainian conflict, as suggested by former sports minister Nigel Huddleston last year, they may be requested to sign a Code of Conduct before participating in the tournament. This could be a boost to the players from Russia and Belarus as well knowing they can participate.

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Conditions apply to the Russians during Wimbledon

A Code of Conduct is expected to be implemented for Russian players participating in Wimbledon, although the specifics have not been finalized. Players showing explicit support for Russia, such as carrying a flag or speaking positively about the country, could face sanctions or expulsion from the tournament.

The Code of Conduct’s handling of players interacting with Russian fans remains unclear, following controversies surrounding Novak Djokovic and his father at the Australian Open in January. It is anticipated that Wimbledon will prohibit Russian flags and symbols on its premises, mirroring the policy implemented in Melbourne. During the Australian Open, four fans were expelled for carrying Russian flags.

Although enforcement was inconsistent, and it is projected that the ban will be more rigorously enforced at Wimbledon. Wimbledon’s decision to lift the ban on Russian players is likely to be well-received by the Lawn Tennis Association since they were at risk of losing Queen’s Club and Eastbourne, worth up to £20 million, as warm-up tournaments. Other venues are now being considered for hosting these tournaments.

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