Aryna Sabalenka refuses to answer questions about war from Ukrainian journalist
Belarusian star Aryna Sabalenka refused to answer questions about the war in Ukraine when confronted by a Ukrainian journalist at the 2023 French Open.
The world No 2 was asked about her apparent links to Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko and if she was prepared to personally condemn Belarus’ role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Belarus president is a strong ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, with Belarus being used as a staging post for Russian troops.
The 25-year-old has recently been criticised by Ukrainian player Marta Kostyuk, who she defeated in the opening round in Paris, for not speaking out against the war.
Following her win over Kostyuk, Sabalenka said: “Nobody in this world, Russian athletes or Belarusian athletes, support the war.”
Sabalenka progressed to the third round at Roland Garros on Wednesday after a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Belarusian compatriot Iryna Shymanovich.
In a press conference after her second round victory, it was put to Sabalenka by a reporter that she had signed a letter to support Lukashenko in 2020.
The journalist added that Sabalenka was seen celebrating the New Year with the Belarusian president, before asking whether a potential world No 1 should be supporting a dictator.
Tense exchange at Aryna Sabalenka’s press conference, when a Ukrainian journalist asked her a pointed question about her previous support for Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko: pic.twitter.com/dHJK0Cuysm
— Molly McElwee (@molly_mcelwee) May 31, 2023
“I want to ask you two questions. First, it’s about Belarus. Then in 2020 you signed a letter to support Lukashenko, in times when he was torturing and beating up protestants in the street. And then eventually you showed up celebrating the new year with him,” the reported said.
“How is it possible that the potential World No. 1 supports a dictator and – “.
Sabalenka responded before the journalist finished the question, saying: “I have no comments to you, so thank you for your question.”
The reporter then asked the 25-year-old if she would personally express her opposition to Belarus’ military aggression against Ukraine.
“The second question is, you keep saying that nobody supports war, nobody, but can you speak for yourself and say: I, Aryna Sabalenka, flatly condemn the fact that Belarus is attacking Ukraine with missiles, and I want it to stop,?” asked the journalist.
She again refused to answer, responding: “I’ve got no comments to you.”
Before being interrupted by the press conference moderator, the journalist added: “So you basically support everything because you cannot speak up? You’re not a small person, Aryna. You can – “.
Finally, the Belarusian declared: “You’ve got enough answers from me, and I’ve got no comments to you.”
The world No 2 will face Russian Kamilla Rakhimova in the round round of the French Open.
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