Full statement as Wimbledon reveal its verdict on Russian and Belarusian player ban

Shahida Jacobs
Daniil Medvedev among the Russian players banned by Wimbledon
Daniil Medvedev among the Russian players banned by Wimbledon

Russian and Belarusian players will be allowed to compete at Wimbledon this year after the All England Club (AELTC) confirmed that it will allow players from the two countries to enter as “neutral” athletes.

The move comes after AELTC banned players from the two countries from taking part in last year’s grass-court Grand Slam, which resulted in the tournament being stripped of ranking points by the ATP and WTA, as the two organisations stuck to its guns and allowed players to compete on the respective tours s as neutral athletes.

Although the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) kept its ranking points despite joining AELTC in the banning of Russian and Belarusian players, it was hit with heavy fines while the ATP and WTA also threatened to cancel its membership which would have resulted in the organisation losing events this year.

Both AELTC and the LTA came under heavy pressure to change the ruling for this year’s grass-court season and the pressure has told and the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov, Aryna Sabalenka, Victoria Azarenka and Daria Kasatkina will be allowed to play in the UK.

Ian Hewitt, Chairman of the All England Club, said: “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. We are thankful for the Government’s support as we and our fellow tennis stakeholder bodies have navigated this complex matter and agreed on conditions we believe are workable.

“If circumstances change materially between now and the commencement of The Championships, we will consider and respond accordingly.”

Besides playing as neutral athletes, players will not be allowed to “express support for Russia’s invasion” and are “prohibit entry by players receiving funding from the Russian and/or Belarusian states”, among other things.

Full statement from AELTC:

“Our current intention is to accept entries from Russian and Belarusian players subject to them competing as ‘neutral’ athletes and complying with appropriate conditions.

“These will prohibit expressions of support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in various forms and prohibit entry by players receiving funding from the Russian and/or Belarusian states (including sponsorship from companies operated or controlled by the states) in relation to their participation in The Championships.

“The conditions have been carefully developed through constructive dialogue with the UK Government, the LTA and international stakeholder bodies in tennis, and are aligned with the Government’s published guidance to sporting bodies in the UK.

“Three developments, taken together, have informed our current position:

“The option of personal player declarations was not in our view viable last year. Since then, extensive engagement with the Government and tennis stakeholder bodies has clarified and developed the form of declarations and produced workable measures for their implementation and enforcement. This approach has the full support of the Government and the LTA, ATP, WTA and ITF.

There was a strong and very disappointing reaction from some governing bodies in tennis to the position taken by the All England Club and the LTA last year with consequences which, if continued, would be damaging to the interests of players, fans, The Championships and British tennis.

“Tennis events outside of the UK have experienced a year of competition with players from Russia and Belarus competing as ‘neutral’ athletes. We also consider alignment between the Grand Slams to be increasingly important in the current tennis environment.”