The Wimbledon Tournament, All England Club, announced on April 20, through a statement that it will ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This controversial decision will leave tennis players out of the oldest competition in the world.
Novak Djokovic, the world number one, said it is “crazy” that they are not allowed to participate in the Grand Slam 2022 competition. He said, “When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good,” as Reuters reported.
The ban leaves out of the tournament competitors Daniil Medvedev, men’s world number two, and Aryna Sabalenka, women’s world number four.
The ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) and the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) condemned the Wimbledon ban as “unfair” and an act of “discrimination.”
“Discrimination based on nationality also constitutes a violation of our agreement with Wimbledon that states that player entry is based solely on ATP Rankings,” the ATP said.
The statement added, “It is important to stress that players from Russia and Belarus will continue to be allowed to compete at ATP events under a neutral flag, a position that has until now been shared across professional tennis,” according to IOL.
Russia disapproved of the sports resolution and declared it “unacceptable” to punish sports stars for political issues. Russian spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call Wednesday, “To make sports people hostages of political intrigue is unacceptable. I hope the players won’t lose their fitness,” Daily Mail reported.
Several prestigious tennis players are also likely to be banned. Last year’s Belarusian Wimbledon semifinalists Sabalenka and a Russian, Anastasia Pavluychenkova, both of whom are in the world’s top 20. In addition, last year at Wimbledon, Veronika Kudermetova and Elina Vesnina were runners-up.
As for the men, four Russian athletes are in the top 30 and two are in the top ten, Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, currently injured. Last year, another, Karen Khachanov, reached the quarterfinals.
While the All England Lawn Tennis Club’s stance states its resolution based on “principles,” following a logic, they should have the same rigor with China and its human rights violations, being one of the major sponsors of the international competition, Breitbart reported.
The tournament has established close ties with China in recent years. With sponsors and suppliers, including automaker Jaguar and electronics company Oppo, both of which have been accused of using forced Uighur laborers from China in their supply chain.
ASPI (Australian Strategic Policy Institute) revealed that both companies have been using inputs from Chinese forced labor camps since April last year. ASPI advised the public, “not buy products made with the tears of modern-day Uyghur slaves”.
Wimbledon tries not to name China and defines the technology company Oppo simply as its “Asian partner” and if it takes human rights as a criterion, it had better be on the principle of truth.
The Wimbledon tournament will be the first tournament in the history of tennis to get involved in political issues in the middle of a war and to ban athletes from participating because of their Russian nationality.