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Wimbledon lifts ban on Russian and Belarusian players

Wimbledon has lifted its ban on Russian and Belarusian players. Photo: Glyn Kirk/AFP

Russian and Belarusian tennis players will be allowed to compete at Wimbledon this year after organisers announced on Friday they were lifting a ban imposed in 2022 in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Competitors from the two countries will be able to enter the Grand Slam in July if they compete as “neutral” athletes and comply with certain conditions.

Players will be prohibited from expressing support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and those who receive funding from the Russian or Belarusian states, including sponsorship from state-operated or state-controlled companies, will remain barred.

The All England Club, which runs Wimbledon, said the conditions had been “carefully developed” after talks with the UK government, Britain’s governing Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and international tennis bodies.

The same conditions will apply for other British tournaments.

Wimbledon last year banned players from Russia and Moscow-allied Belarus after the invasion of Ukraine and the LTA also barred players from other events.

Elsewhere, players have been able to compete on their tours as neutrals, including at the other Grand Slams.

The LTA and Wimbledon were heavily penalised after imposing the tough sanctions last year, with Wimbledon stripped of ranking points while both bodies were fined.

Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England Club, said in a statement on Friday: “We continue to condemn totally Russia’s illegal invasion and our wholehearted support remains with the people of Ukraine.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision, not taken lightly or without a great deal of consideration for those who will be impacted. It is our view that, considering all factors, these are the most appropriate arrangements for the championships for this year.”

The ATP and WTA welcomed the decision, saying in a joint statement: “We are pleased that all players will have an opportunity to compete at Wimbledon and LTA events this summer.

“It has taken a collaborative effort across the sport to arrive at a workable solution which protects the fairness of the game.

“This remains an extremely difficult situation and we would like to thank Wimbledon and the LTA for their efforts in reaching this outcome, while reiterating our unequivocal condemnation of Russia’s war on Ukraine.”

Russian players Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev are both ranked in the top 10 of the men’s game, while Daria Kasatkina is ranked eighth in the women’s game.

Belarusian women’s world number two Aryna Sabalenka won the Australian Open earlier this year.

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