Wimbledon lifts ban on Russian and Belarusian players

By Sports Desk March 31, 2023

Russian and Belarusian athletes will be allowed to compete at this year's Wimbledon after the All England Club (AELTC) reversed its ban from the previous year.

Players from those nations were banned from competing in response to Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and the support provided to Russia by Belarus. 

The lifting of the ban does come with certain conditions, with players only allowed to compete if they do so as a "neutral" athlete and without funding from either state or state-run organisations. 

Players and support staff will also have to sign neutrality declarations and will be barred from showing any "expressions of support" for the ongoing war in Ukraine.

"We continue to condemn totally Russia's illegal invasion and our wholehearted support remains with the people of Ukraine," said AELTC chairman Ian Hewitt.

"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. 

"We are thankful for the government's support as we and our fellow tennis stakeholder bodies have navigated this complex matter and agreed on conditions we believe are workable.

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

The AELTC said the move came about after intense discussions with the UK government, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and international stakeholder bodies in tennis.

It also confirmed the change in policy was a response to the "strong and very disappointing reaction" to last year's ban as well as the organisation having witnessed a year of Russian and Belarusian athletes competing neutrally on the tour circuit.

The LTA was the only organisation to bar athletes from those nations from competing in their events and was fined $1million by the WTA for the move.

The reversal of the decision will allow previously banned athletes to compete in the grand slam as well as the other events in the run-up to Wimbledon at Queen's Club and Eastbourne. 

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