Wimbledon reverses stance on Russian and Belarusian athletes, lifts ban for 2023 tournament
Russian and Belarusian athletes will be allowed to participate at Wimbledon this year after the All England Club announced Friday that players from those countries will be eligible for competition under certain “appropriate conditions.”
Organizers released a statement confirming its reversal from last year’s decision that prohibited any player from Russia or Belarus from competing, even as a “neutral” athlete.
“The option of personal player declarations was not in our view viable last year,” the statement read.
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“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.”
The statement laid out the specific conditions that players must abide by, including declaring “neutral” status. Players will also be prohibited from any “expressions of support” for Russia’s invasion, and any player receiving funding from the Russian and/or Belarusian states” will be barred from entering competition.
That includes “sponsorship from companies operated or controlled by the states.”
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“We continue to condemn totally Russia’s illegal invasion and our wholehearted support remains with the people of Ukraine,” All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said in a statement. “This was an incredibly difficult decision, not taken lightly or without a great deal of consideration for those who will be impacted.”
He continued: “It is our view that, considering all factors, these are the most appropriate arrangements for The Championships for this year.”
Wimbledon was the only grand slam to ban Russians from its tournament last year. The Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup already banned athletes from Russia and Belarus from playing in team events in 2022.
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Former World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev and Victoria Azarenka as well as 2023 Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka were unable to participate last year.
Wimbledon was stripped of its ranking points, and several of tennis' stars, including Novak Djokovic and Martina Navratilova, disapproved of the action. The Lawn Tennis Association was also fined for the move.