Wimbledon acknowledges talks with UK government to prevent Russian tennis players from being disqualified

London 5 (dpa/EP)

The leaders of Wimbledon, this season’s third “grand slam”, are in talks with the UK government to try to prevent a ban on Russian and Belarusian tennis players from participating in this year’s tournament.

Some reports suggest that world number two Daniil Medvedev could be excluded from the tournament due to concerns that a Russian victory could strengthen Vladimir Putin’s regime amid the invasion of Ukraine.

So far, Russian and Belarusian tennis players have been allowed to continue playing in the ATP, WTA and ITF competitions as long as they did so under a neutral flag and without their anthem playing.

But it is understood that the All England Club, which hosts Wimbledon, could impose a ban on players from those countries without the risk of legal repercussions due to its status as an independent tournament.

Organizers are currently in touch with a number of bodies, including the government and the Great Britain Tennis Association, before announcing the ruling before the entry deadline next month.

A statement from the All England Club said: “We have taken note of the UK Government’s guidance regarding the attendance of Russian and Belarusian persons of neutral status at UK sporting events.”

“This remains a complex and challenging issue, and we continue to engage in discussions with the UK government, the LTA and international tennis governing bodies. We plan to announce a decision regarding Wimbledon before the mid-May deadline for participation.” Wimbledon will run from Monday 27 June to Sunday 10 July.

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British Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston has called on all Russian and Belarusian athletes to show they are “truly impartial” and to ensure they are not supported or receiving money from Putin or the Russian regime.

Currently the US Open champion Medvedev is the best tennis player from those countries. It is doubtful that the 26-year-old will play in the upcoming Roland Garros tournament after undergoing surgery.

His compatriot Andrei Rublev took eighth place in the men’s world rankings, while Karen Khachanov and Aslan Karatsev took 24th and 31st places, respectively, while Belarusian Ilya Ivashka took 42nd.

Belarus’ Arina Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka are among the top 50 ranked players on the WTA Tour, along with Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Veronika Kudermtova, Daria Kasatkina and Lyudmila Samsonova.

When asked specifically last month if Medvedev would be allowed to play in this year’s Wimbledon, Huddleston was clear. “No one should ever be allowed or allowed to fly the Russian flag. We need some potential guarantees that they are not a supporter of Vladimir Putin. We are thinking about the requirements we might need,” he added.

“When it comes to people, it gets a little more complicated, so we’re looking at different sports and talking to them in terms of what the response should be and what the requirements are,” he concluded.

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