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Wimbledon bans Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in a tennis tournament

A general view of the grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 28 in Wimbledon, London, England. (Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Wimbledon organizers confirmed the ban on Russian and Belarusian tennis players in a statement on Wednesday, saying “it is our responsibility to play our part in the widespread efforts of government, industry, sports institutions and creative ways to limit Russia’s global influence by the most powerful means possible.”

Wimbledon, the third Grand Slam of the year, is due to start on June 27.

The Kremlin said earlier on Wednesday that the ban on Russian players was “unacceptable”.

Government spokesman Dmitry Peskov answered a question about the exclusion of Russian and Belarusian players from the tournament, which was first reported by The New York Times on Wednesday.

“Making athletes victims of some kind of political bias, intrigue, hostile actions towards our country, is unacceptable. One can only express regret here,” Peskov said in a conference call with officials. journalists.

“Since Russia is after all a very strong tennis country, our tennis players are in the top lines of the world rankings, the competition itself will suffer from their elimination,” Peskov said. “… I would like to wish the guys to do everything not to lose their form and not to lose their tennis world class.”

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), which organizes and hosts the event, told CNN earlier this month that it “continues to engage in discussions with the UK government, the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) and international tennis governing bodies” regarding the participation of Russian and Belarusian players.

The organizers added that they had planned to make a decision before their entry deadline in mid-May.

The ban prevents several high-ranking players from taking part in the iconic grass-court grand slam. Four Russian men, including world number two and reigning US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, are currently ranked in the top 30 on the ATP Tour.

Russia has five women in the top 40 of the WTA Tour rankings.

Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka is currently ranked fourth in the world and was a Wimbledon semi-finalist last year while fellow countrywoman Victoria Azarenka, a former world number one, is currently ranked 18th.

The AELTC decision is the first time Russian and Belarusian players have been banned from competing in an elite tennis event.

Tennis governing bodies had banned Russia and Belarus from international team competitions after the invasion. Individual players are allowed to compete on the ATP and WTA Tours, but not under their country’s name or flag.

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