Wimbledon Lifts Ban on Russian & Belarusian Players

March 31, 2023

Wimbledon announced Friday that Russian and Belarusian tennis players will be allowed to compete as neutral athletes.

The decision reverses a ban from last year, after Russia invaded its sovereign neighbor, Ukraine, in February 2022.

To play at Wimbledon this year, the athletes must sign declarations of neutrality and comply with “appropriate conditions,” including not expressing support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the All England Club said in a statement. 

Nor can the players receive funding from the Russian or Belarusian states, including corporate sponsorships from state-operated or state-controled companies.

Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and Russian players Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev are among the players who will be allowed return.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba condemned the new decision as “immoral.”

“Has Russia ceased its aggression or atrocities? No, it’s just that Wimbledon decided to accommodate two accomplices in crime,” he tweeted. “I call on the UK government to deny visas to their players.”

Wimbledon’s decision comes as the International Olympic Committee is facing heat from dozens of nations for considering allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in the 2024 Paris games under neutral flags.

Belarus, which borders Ukraine, has long been a staging ground for Russian troops, and the relationship between the two countries has only intensified since the war in Ukraine began, though no Belarusian troops have participated in the fighting so far.

On Friday, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that Russia may move strategic nuclear weapons to Belarus along with tactical nukes.

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