Wimbledon Russia ban ‘sparked by fear Royal Family will see Daniil Medvedev win’
The decision to ban Russian and Belarusian competitors from Wimbledon has reportedly been made in an effort to protect the Royal Family.
It's customary for the Queen or another family member to present champions with their titles come finals weekend at SW19. However, Russia 's ongoing invasion of Ukraine —in which Belarus has also contributed to the siege—has made the presence of certain athletes a controversial subject.
The decision to ban individuals has now been made official meaning the likes of world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev will be unable to compete. The Russian has been considered among the favourites to win in London, with the tournament set to get underway on June 27.
Compatriot Andrey Rublev—who scribbled "No war please" on a camera lens in Dubai in February—would also be prevented from participating. In the women's draw, meanwhile, world No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka and former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka are among those on track to miss out.
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston, said in March that in order for athletes from the countries in question to compete in the UK, they must demonstrate they are "independent and neutral – and genuinely so." Associated sportspeople have been encouraged to publicly denounce Russian President Vladimir Putin and his invasion of Ukraine, though doing so could pose risks to those athletes' loved ones.
Rather than run with the possibility of a Russian or Belarusian player lifting their respective trophy alongside the Royal Family, Wimbledon organisers have sought to dodge the issue altogether, reported Sportsmail. The move comes soon after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned the 'Battle for Donbas' has begun.
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The United Nations reported on Tuesday that the Ukrainian civilian death toll since the war began on February 24 is estimated to exceed 2,000. However, the actual figure is believed to be far greater, with the siege in eastern, northern and southern territories making it difficult to ascertain exact numbers.
Medvedev, 26, sealed his maiden major when he lifted the U.S. Open title last year, having also won the ATP Tour Finals in 2020. The Russian has long been touted as a potential leader of the 'next generation' after the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer depart the sport.
The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, was at Centre Court when Djokovic beat Matteo Berrettini to win Wimbledon last year and was later photographed with the 20-time Grand Slam champion. The All England Tennis Club appears to have acted far in advance to ensure neither Russian nor Belarusian contenders receive the same honour.
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