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Tennis

Djokovic and Rublev criticize Wimbledon ban on Russian and Belarusian players

The No. 1 world champion tennis player Novak Djokovic has said he cannot support Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing.

Jennifer Bubel
Update:

When Wimbledon made the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing following the Russian invasion on Ukraine, Serbian No. 1 world champion tennis player Novak Djokovic was quick to voice his opposition. The tournament is set to take place from June 27-July 10.

Djokovic himself grew up in war-torn Serbia in the 1990s, and knows what it is like to be a child of war. “It’s always ordinary people who suffer the most,” he said. He called the decision “crazy” and that the athletes should not have to be punished for what’s happening in Ukraine. He said that he cannot support it.

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Current and former tennis players join Djokovic in Wimbledom criticism

Russian tennis player Andrei Rublev has joined Djokovic in condemning the decision. The No. 8 player called the decision “illogical”.

“The reasons Wimbledon gave made no sense,” said Rublev at the ATP 250 event in Belgrade. ”What is happening now is complete discrimination against us.”

Rublev has been extremely outspoken in his opposition to the war. He went viral when the war began for writing an anti-war statement on the lens of a TV camera. And yet, he will not be allowed to participate in the tournament due to the decision of Russia’s president to invade Ukraine.

Wimbledon is the first tennis tournament to completely ban Russian and Belarusian players as a response to the war, which means that No. 2 Daniil Medvedev and women’s No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka will not be allowed to participate. Djokovic and Rublev are not the only ones who have criticized the decision either. The men and women’s professional tennis world governing bodies have condemned it as well. Belarusian tennis officials may pursue legal action to overturn the ban, saying that it will “incite hatred and intolerance”.

“Such destructive actions in no way contribute to the resolution of conflicts,” they said in a statement.

Former professional players and legends Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova both spoke out against the decision as well. King, who founded the Women’s Tennis Association, said that the decision goes against the WTA’s main guiding principle, which is that “any girl in the world, if she was good enough, would have a place to compete.”

“I cannot support the banning of individual athletes from any tournament, simply because of their nationality,” said King.

Exclusion like this, through no fault of these players, is not the way to go,” Navratilova said. She also pointed out that for women, this ban prevents around 10 percent of players from competing.

According to ESPN, nine of the top 30 players in the world for both men and women are from Russia or Belarus.

The Wimbledon organizers defend their decision in a statement:

“In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with The Championships. It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022.”

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