Russian and Belarusian players will be allowed to participate in Wimbledon this year after the tournament lifted its ban on them. However, players from these countries must sign neutral declarations. The ban was imposed last year in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Last year, the Lawn Tennis Association was fined and world ranking points were revoked from the Championships as a response to the ban of Russian and Belarusian players. However, this decision has been overturned, and Russian and Belarusian players will be allowed to participate in Wimbledon this year. They will have to compete as “neutral” athletes and comply with relevant terms and conditions.
Ian Hewitt, the chairman of the All England Club, condemned Russia’s illegal invasion and stated that the club’s wholehearted support remains with the people of Ukraine. The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) warned that if the ban remained, it could lead to the termination of their membership, resulting in the cancellation of events at Queen’s, Eastbourne, Birmingham, and Nottingham. However, now the ban has been lifted, and Russian and Belarusian players will be allowed to participate at Wimbledon this summer as ‘neutral’ athletes, provided they comply with the appropriate conditions.
The decision to lift the ban on Russian and Belarusian players at Wimbledon this year was made after careful consideration of all factors and was not taken lightly due to the potential impact. The organizers believe that the most appropriate arrangement for this year’s Championships is to allow these players to compete as ‘neutral’ athletes, subject to appropriate conditions. If there are any significant changes in circumstances before the start of the tournament, the organizers will re-evaluate and respond accordingly.
Prior to the Indian Wells tournament, Russian player Daniil Medvedev had stated that he would respect any decision made by the organizers with regards to Russian and Belarusian players participating in Wimbledon.
The world No 5 emphasized his stance on peace and refrained from attempting to sway officials to allow players from his country to participate in the tournament. Although he expressed his desire to compete at SW19, he did not make any attempts to influence the decision-making process.
Aryna Sabalenka, a player from Belarus, was also excluded from Wimbledon in the previous year. She expressed similar views as Medvedev and reiterated her commitment to peace.
“The reaction of individuals and various events made me feel guilty,” stated the second-ranked player in the world. However, he later acknowledged that he had no control over the situation and had not done anything wrong towards the Ukrainian people. “This is not my fault,” he added.
The war in Ukraine has resulted in a high number of casualties on both sides, with over 100,000 military personnel being killed or injured, according to Western military officials. The conflict has also led to the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians, while millions have been forced to flee the fighting. Moscow refers to its involvement in the conflict as a “special military operation” aimed at protecting its security and denies any intentional targeting of civilians.