It has now been confirmed by the All England Club (AELTC) that entries from Russian and Belarussian players will not be accepted for The Championships 2022, a decision which the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) have endorsed by denying those same players from competing at the build-up grass court events to Wimbledon.
It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022 AELTC statement
A statement from the AELTC released on Wednesday explained their decision:
“On behalf of the All England Club and the Committee of Management of The Championships,” it read, “ we wish to express our ongoing support for all those impacted by the conflict in Ukraine during these shocking and distressing times.
“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.”
This means that the men’s world No.2, Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, and the women’s Belarussian world No.4 Aryna Sabalenka, the two highest-ranked players will not be able to compete at this year’s Championships which are scheduled for the fortnight starting on 27th June.
The AELTC and the LTA are the first high-profile organisations in tennis to take this unprecedented stand which has been welcomed by the Government who were consulted before the announcement was made.
“The continuing participation of Russian and Belarusian nationals at events risks providing a boost to these regimes when there is an unprecedented international effort to isolate them and sanction their actions.”
Sports minister Nigel Huddleston has said previously as reported by the BBC, “nobody flying the flag for Russia should be allowed” to play at Wimbledon.
The decision has obviously not gone down well in Moscow where the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, via the BBC: “Given that Russia is a strong tennis country and our athletes possess top lines of the world rating, the tournament itself would suffer because of this ban. It is unacceptable to make the athletes once again hostages of certain political prejudice, intrigues and hostile actions towards our country.”
To date players from Russia and Belraussia are allowed to compete as neutrals, without their nationality being displayed, or their national flag, and the players mentioned earlier, have been accepted into the French Open which will be played late in May and early June.
However the countries were not allowed to compete in the Davis Cup or the BJK Cup which meant Russia were unable to defend the titles they had won last year.
Ian Hewitt, Chairman of the AELTC, concluded in the statement: “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.”
Finally, the statement concluded: “If circumstances change materially between now and June, we will consider and respond accordingly.
“We also welcome the LTA’s decision in declining entries from Russian and Belarusian players to UK events to ensure that British tennis is delivering a consistent approach across the summer.”