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31st Mar 2023

Wimbledon to lift ban on Russian players

Steve Hopkins

‘This was an incredibly difficult decision’

Wimbledon will lift its ban on Russian and Belarusian players.

The move, announced Friday, will see the players return to the tournament on the condition they compete as neutral athletes.

The All England Club and the LTA jointly opted to reverse their bans on players for this season’s events.

Russian and Belarusian players will now be required to sign neutrality agreements, which prohibit them from expressing support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, receiving funding from the Russian or Belarusian state and being sponsored by organisations funded by their governments.

Players will not be required to express criticism of their governments.

The AELTC said in a statement: “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.”

Last year, the nations were not allowed to enter to prevent the Russian regime from “deriving any benefits” from the competition, given its “unjustified and unprecedented military aggression”.

The statement noted that 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”.

Ian Hewitt, Chairman of the All England Club, commented: “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.”

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