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Wimbledon lifts ban on Russian and Belarusian players

The Wimbledon logo amongst flowers The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club Championships on July 10, 2019 in London, England.

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Wimbledon has lifted the ban on Russian and Belarusian players from its tournament this year, with players agreeing to sign neutral statements.

Last year, players from Russia and Belarus were banned from Wimbledon in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Lawn Tennis Association has been fined and world ranking points have been taken from last year’s championships.

However, the decision has now been overturned and players from Russia and Belarus will be allowed to compete at Wimbledon this summer, provided they compete as “neutral” athletes and meet the appropriate conditions.

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) said if the ban remained there was “a real prospect of termination of our membership”, leading to the cancellation of events at Queen’s, Eastbourne, Birmingham and Nottingham.

Ian Hewitt, Chairman of the All England Club, said: “We continue to totally condemn Russia’s unlawful invasion and our wholehearted support remains with the people of Ukraine.

“It was an incredibly difficult decision, one that was not taken lightly or without much consideration for those who will be affected.

“We are of the opinion that, taking all factors into account, these are the most suitable arrangements for the championships this year.

“If circumstances change materially between now and the start of the Championships, we will review and react accordingly.”

Earlier this month, Russian player Daniil Medvedev said ahead of Indian Wells that he respect any decision taken by the organizers.

“I’ve said it so many times, I’m not going to say anything new. I’m for peace,” said the world number 5.

He added that he would like to compete at SW19 but would not try to influence the officials.

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus was also kicked out of Wimbledon last year and echoed Medvedev’s sentiments.

“People’s reaction, some different things made me feel really bad – that it’s my fault,” said the world number 2.

“But then I realized it was not in my control. I did nothing, nothing wrong against the Ukrainian people. It’s just not my fault.”

Western military officials estimate war casualties on each side at more than 100,000 killed or wounded. It is also feared that tens of thousands of civilians have died, while millions have fled the threat of fighting.

Moscow calls the conflict a “special military operation” to protect its security and denies targeting civilians.


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