Russia ‘s Wimbledon ban calls for downsizing Sports news

HOWARD FENDRICH, AP Tennis Writer

PARIS (AP) – Women’s and men’s professional tennis tournaments will not award Wimbledon rankings this year because the All England Club has banned players from Russia and Belarus in connection with the invasion of Ukraine, an unprecedented move that represents a significant rebuke. the oldest grand slam tournament in the sport.

The WTA and ATP announced their decisions on Friday night, two days before the start of the French Open – and just over a month before the start of the game at Wimbledon on June 27.

In a technical sense, this makes the event an exhibition because no ranking points are played. Nevertheless, Wimbledon remains with its traditions and prestige, from grass underfoot to all-white clothing, from the Royal Box to strawberries and cream, not to mention millions of dollars in rewards, so everyone eligible to enter is expected to do so.

Since the country began attacking Ukraine in February, Russian athletes have been prevented from competing in many sports, including the World Cup qualifying playoffs. Belarus helped Russia in the invasion.

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The All England Club announced in April that it would not allow Russia and Belarusians to compete, sparking immediate criticism from the WTA and ATP, along with some prominent players such as title defender Novak Djokovic. It pays to watch how this whole episode affects the relationships between the various actors that influence the way tennis is conducted.

“The ability of players of any nationality to participate in tournaments on the basis of merit and without discrimination is the basis of our tour,” the ATP said in a statement. “Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the UK this summer undermines this principle and the integrity of the ATP rating system.”

The ATP said it had taken the move “with great regret and reluctance,” she added: “Our rules and agreements exist to protect the rights of players as a whole. Unilateral decisions of this kind, if not addressed, set a damaging precedent for the rest of the trip. Discrimination in individual tournaments is simply not viable on a tour that operates in more than 30 countries. “

A statement attributed to WTA President and CEO Steve Simon and published on this tour on Friday states: “Almost 50 years ago, the WTA was founded on the basic principle that all players have the same opportunity to compete on merit and without discrimination. . The WTA believes that individual athletes who participate in individual sports should not be penalized or prevented from competing solely because of their nationality or the decisions of their governments. “

In addition, the International Tennis Federation said on Friday that it would not award points to junior and wheelchair events at Wimbledon this year, explaining that “tournament organizers are not allowed to unilaterally determine entry criteria.”

The All England Club e-mailed a statement expressing its “deep disappointment” with the removal of points in the rankings, calling the tour position “inappropriate in the context of the exceptional and extreme circumstances of the situation and the position we are in” and calling it “Harmful to all players”.

The club reiterated two main ways in which it had previously advocated the election of banning Russians and Belarusians: , which, through its strictly controlled state media, has a recognized history of using sports success to support the winning story of the Russian people.

Prominent players affected by the ban include incumbent US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, who recently finished 1st in the standings and is currently in 2nd place; men no. 7 Andrey Rublev; 7. wife Aryna Sabalenka, last year’s Wimbledon semifinalist; and Victoria Azarenka, a former number one winner of the Australian Open twice.

Medvedev and Rublev are from Russia; Sabalenkova and Azarenkova are from Belarus.

They are all eligible to compete in Paris, and Medvedev averted questions on Russian Wimbledon politics on Friday.

“I’m focusing on Roland Garros right now,” he told a news conference ahead of the tournament. “I am here.”

When a reporter raised the possibility of a lawsuit against the All England Club, perhaps through the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Medvedev said, “I will not go to court in person.”

The US Tennis Association, which organizes the US Open, has not announced a decision on players from Russia and Belarus; that the tournament begins on August 29.

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