In a statement released by the All England Club and the Committee of Management of The Championships, all Russian and Belarusian players will be denied entry into The Wimbledon championships in 2022. The Chairman of the All England Club Ian Hewitt stated, “We recognize that this is hard on the individuals affected, and it is with sadness that they will suffer for the actions of the leaders of the Russian regime.”
The statement explained that the actions taken are designed to show support for the “universal condemnation of Russia’s illegal actions”. Further stating that the club “had carefully considered the situation in the context of their duties to the players, community and broader UK public, as well as taking into account guidance set out by the UK government”.
The statement has received mixed support with some on social media supporting the ban with some believing “any Russian winners would be feted by Putin as part of his propaganda machine” and that “it would be a major embarrassment if a Russian player was parading the singles or doubles titles around Wimbledon Centre Court”. But for others, the move is seen as ‘ridiculous’ and that “as long as the sports or businessman is not directly involved in any action that causes mayhem, it’s extremely unfair to ban or sanction them”.
Novak Djokovic has reportedly commented that he “cannot support the decision of Wimbledon, I think it is crazy. When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good.” Explaining that he would “always be the first to condemn the war. 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 a lot of war in the Balkans. I cannot support the Wimbledon decision. It’s not the athletes’ fault”.
The 18-time grand slam champion, Martina Navratilova agrees that the move by Wimbledon is ‘wrong’. Further stating that “exclusion is not the way to go.” Navratilova said. “It’s unfair to the whole world. There’s so much bad going on. I think this is not helpful. I understand the banning of teams, of course, but on an individual level, I just think it’s wrong.”
This is the latest in a string of sporting bans for Russian and Belarusian players and follows similar actions by cycling, football, ice hockey, rowing, skiing, volleyball, triathlon, and shooting organisations.