Djokovic 'cannot support' Wimbledon ban for Russian and Belarusian athletes

By Sports Desk April 21, 2022

Novak Djokovic "cannot support" Wimbledon's decision to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competition this year.

The All-England Club moved to suspend players from the two nations from entering this year's grand slam event, amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The decision is the latest major sporting sanction against the two nations, with Russia barred from World Cup qualification for Qatar 2022 and the Formula One Russian Grand Prix cancelled.

It has been met with considerable pushback, however, with the ATP blasting the decision as "unfair".

Now Djokovic has come out against it too, arguing it is not the fault of the players, who are being punished for actions beyond their control.

"I will always be the first one to condemn the war," said Djokovic, who is currently in action on home soil in the Serbia Open. "As a child of war, I know what kind of emotional trauma a war leaves.

"Us in Serbia, we know what was happening here in 1999. Ordinary people always suffer – we've had lots of wars in the Balkans.

"That being said, I cannot support the Wimbledon decision. It's not the athletes' fault. When politics interfere with sport, it usually doesn't turn out well."

Eighteen-time grand slam winner Martina Navratilova also pushed back against the move in an interview on LBC Radio.

"The Russian and Belarusian players, some have even expressed, vocalised, their opposition to the war," she added.

"The only option therefore now for them to play would be to leave their country.

"That’s something that I had to do in 1975, because of a totalitarian regime and now we are asking them to do the same, because of politics, because of optics.

"I understand the banning of teams, of course, representing the countries, but on an individual level, I just think it's wrong."

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