Wimbledon lifts ban on Russian and Belarusian players who will compete as ‘neutral athletes’

The Wimbledon logo between flowers The Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10th 2019 in London, England.

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Wimbledon lifted a ban on Russian and Belarusian players from its tournament this year, with players agreeing to sign neutral statements.

Last year, players from Russia and Belarus were banned from Wimbledon in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Lawn Tennis Association was fined and world ranking points were stripped from last year’s championships.

However, the decision has now been reversed and players from Russia and Belarus will be allowed to compete at Wimbledon this summer provided they compete as “neutral” athletes and meet appropriate conditions.

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) said if the ban remained in place there was “a real prospect of our membership being terminated”, which would result in the cancellation of events in Queen’s, Eastbourne, Birmingham and Nottingham.

Ian Hewitt, Chairman of the All England Club, said: “We continue to strongly condemn the illegal invasion of Russia and offer our wholehearted support to the people of Ukraine.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision that was not taken lightly or without much consideration for those involved.

“We feel these are the most appropriate arrangements for this year’s championships, taking all factors into account.

“If circumstances change significantly between now and the start of the Championships, we will take this into account and respond accordingly.”

Earlier this month, Russian player Daniil Medvedev told Indian Wells he would respect all decisions of the organizers.

“I’ve said it so many times, I won’t say anything new. I’m for peace,” said the world No. 5.

He added that he would like to compete in SW19 but would not try to influence the officials.

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus was also banned from Wimbledon last year and echoed Medvedev’s sentiments.

“People’s reaction, some different things made me feel really bad – that it’s my fault,” said the world No. 2.

“But then I realized that this is not under my control. I have done nothing, nothing bad, against the Ukrainian people. It’s just not my fault.”

Western military estimates of the war’s casualties at more than 100,000 dead or wounded on each side. It is also feared that tens of thousands of civilians have died while millions have fled the threat of fighting.

Moscow calls the conflict a “military special operation” to protect its security and denies attacking civilians.

Source : www.cnbc.com

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