The All England Club have announced that a ban on Russian and Belarusian players from competing has been lifted, allowing players from those nations to compete at Wimbledon once again.
The club had banned Russian and Belarusian players last year in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent war between the two states.
Players from Russia and Belarus will be permitted to compete as “neutral” athletes on the condition that they do not express support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and that they do not receive funding or sponsorship from Russian or Belarusian states, such as through sponsorships from state-owned entities.
“There was a strong and very disappointing reaction from some governing bodies in tennis to the position taken by the All England Club and the LTA last year with consequences which, if continued, would be damaging to the interests of players, fans, The Championships and British tennis,” read a statement by the All England Club.
“Tennis events outside of the UK have experienced a year of competition with players from Russia and Belarus competing as ‘neutral’ athletes. We also consider alignment between the Grand Slams to be increasingly important in the current tennis environment.”
The Lawn Tennis Association had been condemned for banning players from Russia and Belarus last year, a practice that the ATP argued was unfair and set a damaging precedent for the game of tennis. Last December, the ATP fined the LTA the equivalent of $1 million, and the club mentioned Friday that there was a “real prospect of the termination of our membership” if the ban stood.
Among the athletes to be swept up in the Wimbledon ban were No. 5-ranked Daniil Medvedev and No. 2-ranked Arnya Sabalenka. Medvedev told reporters earlier this month that he would respect whatever decision that Wimbledon made, while Sabalenka opined that she was not culpable for their country’s invasion of Ukraine.