Wimbledon Lifts Ban on Russians and Allows Them to Compete as Neutrals
On Friday, The All England Club reversed its ban from last year and allowed Russian and Belarussian athletes to participate in Wimbledon as neutral athletes. This is the first year that this has been possible since their ban was lifted last year.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision, not made lightly or without much consideration for those affected,” All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said in a statement.

The players cannot receive financial support from either Russia or Belarus, including sponsorship from companies owned or controlled by those states.

Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and Russian players Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev are among those eligible to return.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba condemned the decision as “immoral.” He asked whether Russia had truly ended their aggression or atrocities; no, it’s just that Wimbledon decided to accommodate two accomplices in crime. I urge the UK government to deny visas to these players,” Kuleba posted on Twitter.

Other tennis tournaments have allowed Russian and Belarusian players to compete as neutral athletes – their nationalities not listed on brackets, official results or graphics on TV broadcasts of matches. Unfortunately, like in other team sports, Russia and Belarus were not permitted by the International Tennis Federation to take part in either Billie Jean King Cup or Davis Cup competitions.

“We believe alignment between the Grand Slams is becoming increasingly significant in today’s tennis environment,” according to a statement released by the All England Club.

Lawn Tennis Association tournaments, used as grass-court warmups by players before their sport’s oldest Grand Slam tournament, will follow the same conditions.

Last year, the LTA faced steep fines from both men’s and women’s professional tennis tours for its threats of expulsion from these tours. According to the LTA, being excluded would have “huge detrimental effects for our country’s game in our country”.

Last year, the ATP and WTA responded to Wimbledon’s ban by not awarding ranking points – an unprecedented action against such a renowned event. “There was an understandably strong but disappointing response from some governing bodies in tennis to our decision last year,” according to The All England Club. “If this trend continues it could prove damaging for players, fans, The Championships, British tennis – in short.”

This year’s Wimbledon tournament will commence on July 3. The women’s final is set for July 15 and the men’s on July 16.

Martina Navratilova, who won an incredible nine Wimbledon singles titles, was among those in favor of this change. She wrote on Twitter, “as I said last year, this was a bad decision and I am glad it has been reversed.”

The All England Club noted that conditions had been established through discussions with British government representatives, the LTA and “international stakeholder bodies in tennis.”

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