Wimbledon Russian ban strongly defended by five countries in joint statement

Wimbledon chief speaks to Express Sport about who will open competition

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Wimbledon has received support from several tennis federations following backlash over their decision to ban all Russian and Belarusian players from The Championships. Five nordic countries released a joint statement backing the ban after AELTC bosses explained the reason for the decision in the annual Wimbledon spring press conference.

Sweden, Iceland, Finland, Denmark and Norway have all come out in support of both Wimbledon and the LTA’s blanket ban on all Russian and Belarusian players. The tennis federations from the four nordic countries released a joint statement on Wednesday, shortly after the tournament’s annual spring press conference, in which the decision was further explained.

“LTA made a brave decision banning all Russian and Belarus players from Wimbledon and major grass tournaments in Britain. Norwegian Tennis Federation supports LTA´s decision and hopes ATP, WTA, ITF and TE will follow in their footsteps,” Norway’s version of the statement read.

“Sanctioning individual athletes is a hard decision. Even so, the consequences can not be compared to what the people of Ukraine are experiencing – day after day.  Hard measures need to be taken to bring this meaningless war to an end!”

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The joint section of the statement, co-signed by the Swedish Tennis Federation, Icelandic Tennis Federation, Finnish Tennis Federation, Danish Tennis Federation and Norwegian Tennis Federation continued: “We, the undersigned federations, support the position the LTA and AELTC have taken regarding Russian and Belarusian players competing in events in Great Britain. In these exceptional times, tennis must do all it can to stand with the people of Ukraine against the hostility of the Russian and Belarusian states.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the Chairman and Chief Executive of the All England Club said they had “made the most responsible decision possible in circumstances” with “no viable alternative in a truly exceptional and tragic situation.” Ian Hewitt explained that they received guidance from the government which did not allow for direct entry into The Championships based on rankings alone, and gave them “in effect” two options – “declining entries or allowing entries but with only specific written declarations from individual players.”

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The Chairman explained that, even if they were to allow Russian and Belarusian players who signed a declaration condemning the war and Putin, they would “risk their success or participation being used to benefit the propaganda machine of Russian regime.” He also said there was a “duty to ensure that no actions they take should put the safety of players or families at risk.”

He also said: “We can recognise that there are many players who will be affected by this and we sincerely hope that the player community will recognise the very challenging position we are in, the reasons for our decision. And it’s not an easy option. We hope that in time we can achieve our desire to achieve a safe and responsible outcome.”

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