Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina begs Wimbledon to maintain ban on Russian and Belarusian players

Elina Svitolina addresses the media

Former world No 3 Elina Svitolina has called on Wimbledon to maintain their ban on Russian and Belarusian players amid the continued war being waged by Russia in Ukraine and Belarus’ support for Vladimir Putin’s forces.

Svitolina issued her plea just days after sending a letter to the International Olympic Committee asking them to maintain the ban on Russian athletes at the Paris Olympics.

All England Club are set to engage in the deliberation process regarding the ban on Russian and Belarussian players.

They were handed fines from both the ATP and WTA Tours, and both bodies stripped the 2022 edition of the Championships of any rankings points.

It has been reported that the call on Russian and Belarusian players in the 2023 edition of Wimbledon might be made by the time of the traditional spring presser.

Despite the sanctions and warnings from the ATP and WTA Tours, Wimbledon would still receive considerable support if they held a hard line on maintaining the ban.

Svitolina believes that there is no reason why the ban should be lifted, considering the suffering being inflicted on the people of Ukraine.

“The war is still there. The decision should not be any different,” Svitolina told BBC Sport.

“I hope they will do the same thing and keep the ban in place. I don’t think it should change. There are still people suffering and still Russian soldiers killing innocent Ukrainians.”

Svitolina feels that sanctions against ordinary Russians and Belarusians would help increase pressure to end the war.

“I see a lot of comments that sport should be out of politics but Russian sport is a big part of their politics,” she said.

“Hopefully we don’t have to make this [boycott] decision because this would be sending a wrong message.

“Why is it different? We have to sanction Russian and Belarusian people in general because of what they governments are doing. This is my view,” she added. “I have nothing against particular athletes. But how else can we stop this war?

“We should sanction the people from Russia and Belarusian as much as possible because their governments are doing these severe things in Ukraine. The sanctions will stop these governments doing what they are doing.”

Svitolina commended the fighting spirit and desire to rebuild of her compatriots.

“The big cities have been destroyed and that is very sad to see,” she said.

“When I speak to my friends there they are not thinking about the sad moments or what it was before, they are only thinking about how they can win, beat the enemy and looking to the future how we can rebuild cities and the country.

“My grandma lives on the 13th floor of an apartment block and she has to walk up the stairs every day because she is scared to get stuck in the elevator.

“Any time of the day electricity can go off and you be trapped in this elevator for hours. It is extremely tough for older people. There are lots of day-to-day issues that everyone is trying to manage in a good spirit. The war is still in the country and we have to keep our spirits up for fighting the enemy and to find this strong spirit to continue every day in this horror.”

READ MORE: Elina Svitolina urges IOC to ‘stick to banning Russian and Belarusian athletes’ for Paris 2024 Olympics