Wimbledon, a premier tennis tournament held every year, has blocked Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in 2022. The governing All England Lawn Tennis Club stated, “Given the profile of The Championships in the United Kingdom and around the world, it is our responsibility to play our part in the widespread efforts of Government, industry, sporting and creative institutions to limit Russia’s global influence through the strongest means possible.”
The international community has unilaterally condemned Russia for its illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The invasion, which Russia launched in late February, has claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions of Ukrainian citizens. The EU, United States, and numerous other countries have soundly denounced Russia over the invasion.
The AELTC continued in its official statement, writing “In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with The Championships.” The Championships are an integral part of the yearly tennis season, and any players that miss it lose out on countless opportunities for sponsorships, exposure to fans, and top-level professional play.
“It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022,” the AELTC continued. Moscow has seethed at the news, with top officials calling the decision “unacceptable” and denouncing Wimbledon for the move.
“Making athletes victims of some kind of political prejudices, intrigues, hostile actions towards our country, is unacceptable. One can only express regret here,” says Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. While the AELTC says it regrets the decision, many supporters of Ukraine feel as though a handful of tennis players missing a tournament is a small, and predictable, price to pay.
Many commentators have noted that the Russian government should have seen this reaction coming. The West has levied numerous economic sanctions on Russia since the start of the invasion, essentially alienating the country from the global economy. It’s unsurprising to see the global community doing the same.
The ban came after Ukrainian athletes Marta Kostyuk, Elina Monfils and Lesia Tsurenko took to social media to call for a ban on all Russian and Belarusian tennis players who failed to denounce the invasion. As some commenters online noted, if the Russian government finds this treatment unfair and prejudicial, it should call off the invasion and pull its troops out of Ukraine’s sovereign territory.