Russian and Belorussian athletes have been banned from competing at Wimbledon over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This is particularly interesting considering that a British politician previously said they would be denying all Russian athletes their visas – and that despite that UFC managed to pull of a card at the O2 arena – headlined by a Russian, Aleksander Volkov.
“I have canceled the visas of the Belarusian Men’s Basketball Team who were due to play in Newcastle tomorrow night. The UK will not welcome the national sports teams of those countries who are complicit in Putin’s unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine.” Patel wrote on Twitter.
Now leading tennis player, Novak Djokovic came out questioning the decision to ban Russian and Belorussian tennis players from the Grand Slam event.
Even though the ban effectively protects Djokovic from having his spot taken by world number two – Danil Medvedev – Djokovic came out calling the decision ‘crazy’.
“I will always condemn war, I will never support war being myself a child of war,” he told reporters at the Serbia Open.
“I know how much emotional trauma it leaves. In Serbia we all know what happened in 1999. In the Balkans we have had many wars in recent history.
“However, I cannot support the decision of Wimbledon, I think it is crazy. When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good,” he added.
Ukraine’s former world number three, Elina Svitolina, believes it is better for Russian and Belarusian players to speak out against the war in her homeland, with them being allowed to participate.
“The best way is not to ban them completely, but make them speak about the war in Ukraine, to ask them if they support the invasion in Ukraine, if they support the government,” Svitolina told Sky News.
“And if they can answer those questions and if they say that they don’t support it [the war], they don’t support Putin, they don’t support Lukashenko, then they would be allowed to participate.”
The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) have also spoken out against the ban.
The WTA said it is “very disappointed” with the decision and is now “evaluating its next steps and what actions may be taken regarding these decisions”.