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Wimbledon in talks with government over possible ban of Russian players


Wimbledon officials are in ongoing talks with the UK government regarding the participation of Russian and Belarusian players in this year’s championships.

Reports have suggested men’s world number two Daniil Medvedev could be banned from the tournament due to fears a Russian victory would boost Vladimir Putin’s regime amid the invasion of Ukraine.

Russian and Belarusian athletes have so far been permitted to continue playing in ATP, WTA and ITF competitions as long as they do so under a neutral flag and with no anthem played.

But it is understood the All England Club, which hosts Wimbledon, may be allowed to implement a ban on players from those countries without risk of legal repercussions due to its independent tournament status.

Organisers are currently liaising with a number of bodies, including government and the Lawn Tennis Association, ahead of announcing a verdict before next month’s entry deadline.

“We have noted the UK government’s guidance regarding the attendance of Russian and Belarusian individuals in a neutral capacity at sporting events in the UK,” read a statement from the All England Club.

“This remains a complex and challenging issue, and we are continuing to engage in discussion with the UK government, the LTA, and the international governing bodies of tennis.

“We plan to announce a decision in relation to Wimbledon ahead of our entry deadline in mid-May.”

Wimbledon is scheduled to take place from Monday 27 June until Sunday 10 July.

UK sports minister Nigel Huddleston has previously called for all Russian and Belarusian athletes to prove they are “genuinely neutral” and give assurances they do not support or receive money from Putin or the Russian regime.

US Open champion Medvedev is currently the most high-profile tennis player from those countries. The 26-year-old is a doubt to play at the forthcoming French Open after undergoing hernia surgery.

Compatriot Andrey Rublev is eighth in the men’s world rankings, while Karen Khachanov and Aslan Karatsev are 24th and 31st respectively and Belarus’ Ilya Ivashka is 42nd.

Belarusians Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka are among the WTA tour’s top 50 ranked players, in addition to Russians Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Veronika Kudermetova, Daria Kasatkina and Ludmilla Samsonova.

Asked specifically last month whether Medvedev would be allowed to participate at Wimbledon this year, Huddleston said: “Absolutely nobody flying the flag for Russia should be allowed or enabled.

“We need some potential assurance that they are not supporters of Vladimir Putin. We’re considering what requirements we may need. Would I be comfortable with a Russian athlete flying the Russian flag? No.

“When it comes to individuals, that gets a bit more complex so we are looking at and talking to various sports in terms of what the response and requirements should be there.”

Maria Sharapova was the last Russian player to be crowned Wimbledon singles champion after defeating Serena Williams in the 2004 women’s final.

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