ATP slams Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian players; terms it ‘discriminatory’
New York: The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) — the governing body of the men’s professional tennis circuits — has strongly condemned the All England Club’s decision to bar Russian and Belarusian players from competing at Wimbledon 2022 because of the invasion of Ukraine, saying that “it has the potential to set a damaging precedent for the game”.
The men’s world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev of Russia and women’s world No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus are the highest-ranked players to be affected by the All England Club’s decision.
Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England Club, had said on Wednesday that in the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression by Russia, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with ‘The Championships’.
However, a strongly-worded statement issued by ATP said that discrimination based on nationality constitutes a violation of the global tennis body’s agreement with Wimbledon, adding that “Russian and Belarusian players will continue to be allowed to compete at ATP events under neutral flag”.
“We strongly condemn Russia’s reprehensible invasion of Ukraine and stand in solidarity with the millions of innocent people affected by the ongoing war. Our sport is proud to operate on the fundamental principles of merit and fairness, where players compete as individuals to earn their place in tournaments based on the ATP Rankings.
“We believe that the unilateral decision by Wimbledon and the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association, which is the national governing body of tennis in Great Britain) to exclude players from Russia and Belarus from this year’s British grass-court swing is unfair and has the potential to set a damaging precedent for the game.
“Discrimination based on nationality also constitutes a violation of our agreement with Wimbledon that states that player entry is based solely on ATP Rankings. Any course of action in response to this decision will now be assessed in consultation with our Board and Member councils.
“It is important to stress that players from Russia and Belarus will continue to be allowed to compete at ATP events under a neutral flag, a position that has until now been shared across professional tennis. In parallel, we will continue our joint humanitarian support for Ukraine under Tennis Plays for Peace,” said the statement.