LONDON: Tennis players from Russia and Belarus will not be allowed to compete in Wimbledon this year following the invasion of Ukraine.
Organisers say they made the decision “with deep regret” for entries from the two countries to be declined. Players who will miss out include the men’s world number two and women’s world number four.
Russian player Daniil Medvedev and Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus will not be allowed to complete.
The decision will be reconsidered if circumstances “change materially” between now and June, according to Wimbledon. It welcomed the Lawn Tennis Association’s (LTA’s) decision to also ban Russian and Belarusian players from UK events.
The decision comes following the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops.
All-England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said: “We recognise that this is hard on the individuals affected, and it is with sadness that they will suffer for the actions of the leaders of the Russian regime.
“We have very carefully considered the alternative measures that might be taken within the UK Government guidance but, given the high profile environment of The Championships, the importance of not allowing sport to be used to promote the Russian regime and our broader concerns for public and player (including family) safety, we do not believe it is viable to proceed on any other basis at The Championships.”
The All England Club and the Committee of Management of The Championships expressed ongoing support to “all those impacted by the conflict in Ukraine during these shocking and distressing times” in a statement.
It added: “We share in the universal condemnation of Russia’s illegal actions and have carefully considered the situation in the context of our duties to the players, to our community and to the broader UK public as a British sporting institution. We have also taken into account guidance set out by the UK Government specifically in relation to sporting bodies and events.
“Given the profile of The Championships in the United Kingdom and around the world, it is our responsibility to play our part in the widespread efforts of Government, industry, sporting and creative institutions to limit Russia’s global influence through the strongest means possible.
“In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with The Championships. It is, therefore, our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022.”
Women’s world number four Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus will be among those affected by the decision.
The LTA made a statement explaining that it recognised that the situation in Ukraine was beyond the players’ control. However, it stressed that the ban “has the support of the British public.” Tennis players from Russia and Belarus will be permitted to compete provided it is under a neutral flag and without their anthem played.