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Wimbledon lifts ban on Russian and Belarusian players

Wimbledon lifts ban on Russian and Belarusian players

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

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

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

The Lawn Tennis Association was hit with a fine and world ranking points were removed from last year’s Championships.

However, the decision has now been reversed and players from Russia and Belarus will be allowed to take part at Wimbledon this summer, subject to them competing as ‘neutral’ athletes and complying with appropriate conditions.

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) said if the ban remained, there was “a real prospect of the 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 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.

“If circumstances change materially between now and the commencement of The Championships, we will consider and respond accordingly.”

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

“I’ve said it so many times, I’m not going to say anything new. I’m for peace,” said the world No 5.

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

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

“The reaction of people, some different things made me feel really bad – that this is my fault,” said the world No 2.

“But then I realised that this is not under my control. I did nothing, nothing bad against Ukrainian people. This is just not my fault.”

Western military officials estimate casualties of the war on each side at more than 100,000 killed or wounded. Tens of thousands of civilians are also feared to 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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