Wimbledon on Collision Course with ATP, WTA Over Russia, Belarus Ban

The world’s most famous tennis tournament took place on Friday on a collision course with the sport’s global governing bodies after the ATP and WTA tours stripped Wimbledon rankings due to the exclusion of players from Russia and Belarus.

The move by the men’s and women’s tours would turn Wimbledon into an episodic event, but the AELTC, the grand slam organisers, reiterated their position that a ban was the only viable option under British government oversight.

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The International Tennis Federation (ITF) also said it will not award Wimbledon classification points this year in junior and wheelchair tennis events.

AELTC’s decision to impose a ban on Russian and Belarusian players at this year’s tournament due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine is the first time that players have been disqualified on the basis of nationality since the immediate post-WWII era when German and Japanese players were banned. .

The AELTC said Friday that they are studying their options and are in discussions with colleagues at the Grand Slam.

“In addition, we remain unwilling to accept the use of success or participation in Wimbledon to the benefit of the propaganda machine of the Russian regime,” the AELTC said in a statement.

“We would therefore like to express our deep disappointment with the decisions taken by the ATP, WTA and ITF to remove ranking points for tournaments.

“We believe these decisions are disproportionate in the context of the exceptional and extreme circumstances of this situation and the position we find ourselves in, and are detrimental to all players competing on the Tour.”

integrity rating

The ATP and WTA banned Russia and Belarus from international team competition after the invasion, which Moscow called a “special operation”, but allowed players from the two countries to compete as neutrals.

“The ability of players of any nationality to enter tournaments on the basis of merit, and without discrimination, is fundamental to our tour,” the ATP said in a statement.

“Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the UK this summer undermines this principle and the integrity of the ATP classification system. It also goes against our classifications agreement.

“In the absence of a change in circumstances, it is with great regret and hesitation that we see no choice but to remove the ATP Ranking Points from the 2022 Wimbledon Championships.”

WTA president Steve Simon said the tour believes that athletes participating in individual sport “should not be penalized or barred from competing solely because of their nationalities or decisions made by the governments of their countries”.

Simon said: “Recent decisions by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to ban athletes from competing in upcoming grass court events in the UK violate this fundamental principle.

“As a result of the AELTC’s position that it will not fulfill its obligation to use the WTA Rankings to enter Wimbledon and proceed in a partial field that is not based on merit, the WTA has made the difficult decision not to award WTA Ranking Points for that purpose at Wimbledon in the year.”

swipe ban

Prominent players have criticized Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players such as Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, which he called unfair, while world number one Novak Djokovic said he did not support the decision.

“Our rules and agreements are in place in order to protect the rights of the players as a whole. The ATP added: Unilateral decisions of this kind, if not addressed, set a harmful precedent for the rest of the tour.

“Discrimination by individual tournaments is simply not applicable on a tour conducted in more than 30 countries.

“We remain hopeful that further discussions with Wimbledon will lead to an outcome acceptable to all parties involved.

“More broadly, we believe this highlights once again the need for a unified management structure across professional tennis so that decisions of this nature can be taken in a joint manner.”

tuning events

The British Tennis Association (LTA) also responded in kind to the Wimbledon ban by excluding players from the two countries from the events of its supplementary tour.

However, the WTA said its tournaments in Nottingham, Birmingham and Eastbourne would go ahead with rating points on offer as there are “alternate and comparable playing opportunities and rating points in the same weeks”.

The ATP also said earlier this week that its events in Queens and Eastbourne will continue as usual, offering full ATP rating points.

While LTA tournaments will continue to offer full ranking points, the UK governing body is subject to penalties from the ATP and WTA.

The ITF justified its decision not to award ranking points to this year’s Wimbledon for junior and wheelchair tennis events by saying it undermined the integrity of the competition.

“The ITF has determined that Wimbledon entry criteria banning Russians and Belarusians threaten the integrity of international competition, in particular its ranking system, as there is a lack of equivalent alternative opportunities for players to compete for ranking points and prize money,” she said.

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