Tennis Threads posts the full statements made by the ATP, WTA and ITF on Friday 20 May on the stripping of Ranking Points at this year’s Championships at Wimbledon.
ATP statement on removal of Ranking Points at 2022 Wimbledon
“The ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination, is fundamental to our Tour. The decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the UK this summer undermines this principle and the integrity of the ATP Ranking system. It is also inconsistent with our Rankings agreement. Absent a change in circumstances, it is with great regret and reluctance that we see no option but to remove ATP Ranking points from Wimbledon for 2022.
“Our rules and agreements exist in order to protect the rights of players as a whole. Unilateral decisions of this nature, if unaddressed, set a damaging precedent for the rest of the Tour. Discrimination by individual tournaments is simply not viable on a Tour that operates in more than 30 countries.
“We greatly value our long-standing relationships with Wimbledon and the LTA and do not underestimate the difficult decisions faced in responding to recent UK Government guidance. However, we note that this was informal guidance, not a mandate, which offered an alternative option that would have left the decision in the hands of individual players competing as neutral athletes through a signed declaration. Our internal discussions with affected players in fact led us to conclude this would have been a more agreeable option for the Tour. We remain hopeful of further discussions with Wimbledon leading to an acceptable outcome for all concerned. More broadly, we believe this matter again highlights the need for a united governance structure across professional tennis so that decisions of this nature can be made in a joint manner.
“Separately, as previously announced, we confirm that ranking points will remain at ATP Tour events at Queen’s (ATP 500), Eastbourne (ATP 250) and ATP Challenger events in the UK. We have taken this decision on the basis that alternative playing opportunities are open to Russian and Belarusian players in those weeks, unlike during Wimbledon, which minimises any impact on the integrity of the rankings. Sanctions related to LTA’s violation of ATP rules will be assessed separately.
“Our condemnation of Russia’s devastating invasion of Ukraine remains unequivocal. Immediate action was taken to suspend the ATP Tour event in Moscow and have Russian and Belarusian athletes compete under neutral flags on Tour. In parallel, we have continued our humanitarian support for Ukraine, together with the other governing bodies of tennis, as well as providing direct financial assistance to many affected players.”
Statement by Steve Simon on WTA’s course of action following Wimbledon’s and the LTA’s decisions to ban Russian and Belarusian players
“The atrocities happening to millions of innocent people in Ukraine because of Russia’s unprovoked invasion are horrific and appalling. The WTA strongly condemns Russia’s ongoing attack. First and foremost, we want nothing more than for peace and the war in Ukraine to end.
“Nearly 50 years ago, the WTA was founded on the fundamental principle that all players have an equal opportunity to compete based on merit and without discrimination. The WTA believes that individual athletes participating in an individual sport should not be penalized or prevented from competing solely because of their nationalities or the decisions made by the governments of their countries.
“The recent decisions made by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to ban athletes from competing in the upcoming UK grass-court events violate that fundamental principle, which is clearly embodied in the WTA rules, the Grand Slam rules and the agreement the WTA has with the Grand Slams.
“As a result of the AELTC’s position that it will not honor its obligation to use the WTA Rankings for entry into Wimbledon and proceed with a partial field not based on merit, the WTA has made the difficult decision to not award WTA ranking points for this year’s Wimbledon Championships.
“In addition, each of the WTA-sanctioned events (Nottingham, Birmingham, and Eastbourne) will be penalized and their WTA tournament sanctions will be placed on probation. Since alternative and comparable playing and ranking point opportunities exist in the same weeks as those events for the affected players, WTA ranking points will remain in place for those events.
“The stance we are taking is about protecting the equal opportunities that WTA players should have to compete as individuals. If we do not take this stance, then we abandon our fundamental principle and allow the WTA to become an example to support discrimination based on nationality at other events and in other regions around the world. The WTA will continue to apply its rules to reject such discrimination.
“We remain hopeful and willing to reassess the issuance of points should we find a solution that has consensus from all parties and allows our players the opportunity to compete in a unified environment. We continue our humanitarian relief efforts to support Ukraine through Tennis Plays for Peace, which to date has raised over $1.1 million and continues to provide meaningful assistance.”
ITF withdraws ranking points for Wimbledon Juniors and Wheelchair
“The ITF has today confirmed its decision not to grant ITF ranking points to Wimbledon in 2022 for Juniors and Wheelchair tennis events which form part of the Grand Slam tournament.
“Tournament organisers are not permitted to unilaterally impose entry criteria inconsistent with the ITF’s published open entry criteria. Therefore, in accordance with its protocols, the ITF has the right to withdraw ranking points. The ITF has determined that Wimbledon’s entry criteria banning Russians and Belarusians compromises the integrity of its international competition, in particular its ranking system, as there is a lack of alternative equivalent opportunities for players to compete for ranking points and prize money.
“This difficult decision has been taken as a protective measure that upholds the principle of open entry to international competition based on merit and protects the integrity of ITF international tennis competitions. The ITF’s position remains that Russian and Belarusian athletes remain eligible to participate as neutral athletes.
“The ITF recognises that each national government will have its own response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine facilitated by Belarus and that national context has led the AELTC and the LTA to decide an Entry Ban in the UK. However, we strongly believe it is not the politicians who decide who can take part in our competitions, and as the global governing body of tennis across the 210 countries where a national tennis federation or association member is present, the ITF must maintain its overriding international policy for consistency.
“Separately, ITF ranking points will only be retained in UK-based LTA tournaments in ITF World Tennis Tour, Juniors, Wheelchair and Seniors international tours if satisfactory alternative equivalent opportunities exist in other countries.
“On March 1, the ITF sanctioned the Russian Tennis Federation and Belarusian Tennis Federation with immediate suspension until further notice. This suspension bans both nations from hosting or entering international competition and display of any national or patriotic symbols in any form. This decision was strongly supported in a vote by the ITF Council composed of the National Tennis Federations on May 6.”
AELTC Statement Regarding ATP / WTA / ITF Ranking Points at The Championships
“On behalf of the All England Club and the Committee of Management of The Championships, we write in response to the decisions taken by the ATP, WTA and ITF Boards to remove ATP, WTA and ITF ranking points for The Championships 2022.
“We appreciate that opinions differ in relation to our decision to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships this year, and we deeply regret the impact of this decision on the individuals affected.
“However, given the position taken by the UK Government to limit Russia’s global influence, which removed automatic entry by ranking, and the widespread response of Government, industry, sport and creative institutions, we remain of the view that we have made the only viable decision for Wimbledon as a globally renowned sporting event and British institution, and we stand by the decision we have made.
“As we have previously stated, after careful consideration against a variety of factors, and bound to act in accordance with the directive guidance from the UK Government, we came to two firm conclusions that formed the basis for this decision.
“We were not prepared to take any actions which could risk the personal safety of players, or their families. We believe that requiring written declarations from individual players – and that would apply to all relevant players – as a condition of entry in the high-profile circumstances of Wimbledon would carry significant scrutiny and risk.
“In addition, we remain unwilling to accept success or participation at Wimbledon being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime, which, through its closely controlled State media, has an acknowledged history of using sporting success to support a triumphant narrative to the Russian people.
“We therefore wish to state our deep disappointment at the decisions taken by the ATP, WTA and ITF in removing ranking points for The Championships. We believe these decisions to be disproportionate in the context of the exceptional and extreme circumstances of this situation and the position we found ourselves in, and damaging to all players who compete on Tour.
“We are considering our options, and we are reserving our position at this stage. We are also in discussion with our Grand Slam colleagues.
“In the meantime, we remain focused on our exciting plans for The Championships this year.”