Wimbledon news: Daniil Medvedev and co must sign written declaration that they don’t support Vladimir Putin
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston has reiterated the stance that athletes from Russia and Belarus will have to give assurances that they don’t support the Russian and Belarusian governments if they are to compete at sporting events in the UK, including Wimbledon, saying players will have to sign written declarations.
Following Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine in February, tennis players from Russia and Belarus can only play as individuals on the ATP and WTA Tours as well as ITF events.
It was a softer approach than other sports as athletics, canoeing and badminton authorities banned athletes from those countries from competing at international events.
However, Huddleston announced earlier in March that the UK government would go a step further as athletes will have to give assurances that they don’t support Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On Wednesday he went a step further as he confirmed written assurances will have to be given.
The move will impact a host of top tennis players, including US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka, ahead of Wimbledon, the Nottingham Open and Queen’s Club Championship.
“I have had a good meeting with various governing bodies about what we are doing in terms of sanctions and bans for individual athletes,” Huddleston said.
“We did make the request to governing bodies relating to individual sports people that if they [Russians or Belarusians] wish to participate in a UK sport, they are independent and neutral – and genuinely so.
“We wish to get the assurance of that in a written declaration that they are not receiving money from Putin, Russia or Belarus. That they will not be making supportive comments of Putin, Russia or Belarus.
“We are requesting governing bodies or individual events seek that assurance in advance if they are going to allow neutrals to play.
“If people are saying they are neutral athletes, we want the assurance that they are genuinely neutral and therefore there isn’t any connection with Putin.
“If some individual sports or entities choose to do an outright ban of Russian or Belarusian athletes, then we will support that as well.
“But if they chose to go down the neutral route, then we are requesting they get that assurance.”
The French Open has confirmed that they are unlikely to follow suit while Australian great Todd Woodbridge has warned that asking players to denounce the Russian government is “slippery and dangerous ground” as their families “will pay a price”.
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