Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s tournament has sparked predictable outrage, Simon Briggs said The Daily Telegraph. But no one expected it would plunge the sport into “downright civil war”: the bodies that run the men’s and women’s tours — the ATP and WTA – have both made angry statements and condemned the move as “discriminatory and unfair”. There was even talk of taking ranking points from the tournament, effectively making it an “exhibition” event.
It is already the case that Wimbledon without Russians or Belarusians is devalued as a sporting competition, said Ben Rothenberg slate. This year there was a “real possibility” that a player from both nations would win a singles title. “Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka is fourth in the WTA top 10, and Russia’s Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev are second and eighth in the men’s rankings, respectively.”
But what should Wimbledon do, Henry Mance asked in the FT. Any Russian success at the tournament would no doubt have been “exploited by the Kremlin” and there was also the prospect that Russian players would be constantly pressured to condemn Putin but felt “unable to do so”. The ban is far from ideal, but before we rush to condemnation, it’s worth remembering that “the shunning of Russian athletes around the world is a predictable result of Putin’s atrocities“.
Djokovic: It’s a “crazy” decision
Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, said the organization had taken into account the UK government’s guidance on limiting Russia’s influence. InsideTheGames reported. Hewitt defended the “agonizing decision” to ban Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s grass Grand Slam, adding that there was “no viable alternative”.
In response to the ban, Man’s World is #1 Novak Djokovic branded the decision “crazy”. The Serb, a six-time Wimbledon winner, said he will “always condemn the war” but he “cannot support the decision”. He added: “I think it’s crazy. When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good.”
https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/sport/tennis/956573/outright-civil-war-tennis-wimbledon-faces-up-to-putin ‘Apparent civil war’ in tennis as Wimbledon takes on Putin