No tennis pros from Russia and Belarus at Wimbledon

London (AP) – No tennis professionals from Russia and Belarus will be admitted to the lawn classic in Wimbledon this year. The organizers are reacting to the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, as they confirmed on April 20th.

The exclusion affects, for example, the second in the world rankings Daniil Medvedev from Russia and the two-time Grand Slam tournament winner Victoria Asarenka from Belarus. The third Grand Slam tournament of the year takes place from June 27th to July 10th. Wimbledon is the first event to ban tennis pros because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The women’s organization WTA criticized the decision. “The WTA has repeatedly emphasized that individual athletes should not be penalized or prevented from participating because of their origin or because of decisions made by the governments of their countries,” it said in a statement. The WTA will examine steps and possible measures against this decision.

The organizers said it was one of the tournament’s responsibility to limit Russia’s global influence by whatever means possible. In view of the war of aggression, it would be unacceptable that the Russian regime could benefit from the performances of tennis professionals from Russia or Belarus at Wimbledon, they reasoned. If the conditions change fundamentally by June, this will be considered.

Before the official statement from the organizers, various media, including the “New York Times” and the “Times”, had already reported on the exclusion of the Russian and Belarusian professionals.

Russia sharply criticized the decision. “Once again, athletes are being held hostage by any political bias, political intrigues, hostile actions against our country. This is unacceptable,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday, according to the Interfax agency.