Wimbledon will accept Russian and Belarusian players as “neutral” athletes

Wimbledon will allow Russian and Belarusian players to compete at the grassroots Grand Slam as “neutrals” this year under certain conditions, as players from the two countries were banned last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Wimbledon said last year that suspension of players from the two countries was the only viable option under the direction of the British government.

However, this year’s terms include a ban on “expressing support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” which Moscow calls a special military operation, and a ban on entry for players “receiving funding from Russian and/or Belarusian states.”

“Our current intention is to accept applications from Russian and Belarusian players, provided they act as “neutral” athletes and comply with the relevant conditions,” the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) said in a statement.

“The terms and conditions have been carefully developed through constructive dialogue with the UK Government, the LTA (Long Tennis Association) and international organizations with an interest in tennis, and are in line with published government guidelines for UK sports organizations.”

Due to the ban, Wimbledon lost their rating points. The WTA Women’s and ATP Men’s Tours also imposed huge fines on the LTA and AELTC.

Wimbledon was the only Grand Slam to ban Russians and Belarussians, which had been a springboard for invasion last year. The players competed on the tour as individual athletes without nationality in other major tournaments.

The top 10 men’s rating includes two Russians – Daniil Medvedev (5) and Andrey Rublev (7).

Among women, Belarusian Arina Sobolenko is ranked second in the world and also won the Australian Open earlier this year. Russian Daria Kasatkina ranks eighth in the world.

© 2023 Thomson Reuters.