Russian and Belarusian players banned to counter potential use by Russian ‘propaganda machine’

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After two years affected by Covid, with the Championships canceled in 2020 and numerous venue restrictions in place last year, the All England Club today confirmed that there will be restrictions on fans or players during of the centenary year of the tournament.

The oldest of tennis’ four major tournaments will mark the tournament’s move from Worple Road to its current location and the opening of its center court 100 years ago

However, with news that the grounds will return to their maximum daily capacity of 42,000 and the much-loved queue will be back in action, the post-Covid environment has taken second place to other developments. recent.

Against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, news broke last week that the championships intended to ban Russian players, as well as those from its ally Belarus, from entering. The announcement drew condemnation from many quarters, including men’s and women’s professional bodies.

From ATP: “Our sport prides itself on operating under the fundamental principles of merit and fairness, where players compete as individuals to earn their place in tournaments based on ATP rankings. We believe the unilateral decision made today by Wimbledon and the LTA to exclude players from Russia and Belarus from this year’s British grass swing is unfair and has the potential to set a damaging precedent for the match Discrimination based on nationality is also a breach of our agreement with Wimbledon which states that player entry is based solely on ATP rankings Any course of action in response to this decision will now be assessed in consultation with our Board and Member Boards.

From the WTA: “As the WTA has always stated, individual athletes should not be penalized or prevented from competing because of their origin or the decisions made by the governments of their countries. Discrimination, and the decision to focus such discrimination against athletes competing alone as individuals, is neither fair nor justified… The WTA will assess its next steps and what action can be taken regarding these decisions.

However, Chairman Ian Hewitt, speaking at the Wimbledon Spring Conference, explained:

“We believe this is an extreme and exceptional situation that takes us well beyond the interests of tennis alone. The ongoing invasion of Russia and the catastrophic damage to millions of lives in Ukraine have been condemned around the world… As part of this response, the UK government has set out guidance for sporting bodies and events in the UK…

“After careful consideration, we have come to two firm conclusions… Firstly, even if we were to accept registrations of Russian and Belarusian players with written declarations, we risk that their success or participation in Wimbledon will be used for the benefit of the propaganda machine of the Russian regime – which we could not accept Secondly, we have a duty to ensure that none of our actions endangers the safety or well-being of players or their families.

“We deeply understand and regret the impact this decision will have on everyone affected…but obligated to act, we believe we have made the most responsible decision possible under the circumstances.”

The ATP and WTA have already imposed “neutrality” on affected players on professional tours, with no countries or flags allowed in any media. That said, other than domestic tournaments such as the Fed Cup and Davis Cup, players are independent athletes who manage their own contracts with team members and organizations, including coaches, and there is no not yet clear if these non-players will also be excluded.

The impact, however, will be felt strongly in both male and female draws. World number 2 Daniil Medvedev, the defending US Open champion and briefly number 1 in the ranks last month, is the most important. Fellow Russian No8-ranked Andrey Rublev will also be ruled out, along with possibly two additional male seeds.

In the women’s singles draw, No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka and No. 17 Victoria Azarenka are Belarusians, while No. 17 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is Russian, as well as the fourth doubles player, Veronika Kudermetova. Otherwise, three more Russians could have been seeded in the singles draw.

So far, Wimbledon is the only Major to have taken such a stance.

Other news about the Championships

· Middle Sunday (July 3), which will be a regular part of the program for the first time, will also be the focal point of the Center Court centenary celebrations, with a special moment planned between the second and third matches. It will also be a day for the local community, with tickets distributed to local residents, schools, charities and community groups.

· Queen’s Platinum Jubilee: The tournament will create two bespoke platinum coins to be used in the finals coin toss.

· Quadruple wheelchair draws have been doubled to eight singles and four doubles.

· Invitational doubles events will return with women’s and men’s doubles draws as well as the addition of a mixed doubles competition.

· The Junior Championships are expanded with the addition of the 14-and-under draw alongside the existing 18-and-under draw.

· A final set tie-break at 6-6 in the final set will now be first to 10 points with a two point advantage.

The staggered start times for No. 1 Court (1pm) and Center Court (1.30pm) will be retained from last year, with the exception of the Finals weekend, when play on Center Court starts at 2 p.m.

· After its introduction last year, enhanced mobile ticketing will continue, with all tickets being distributed through the official Wimbledon mobile apps.

· ‘The Stage Awaits You’ theme to mark the centenary, including a special logo, center court refresh with a new center entrance for players walking onto the court.

Program

· Wednesday, June 15: Further league updates, including wildcards.

· Monday 20 to Thursday 23 June: Qualifying Tournament at the Community Sports Centre, Roehampton.

· Wednesday, June 22: Announcement of seeds.

· Friday, June 24: 10 a.m., official draws.

· The Round 4 singles schedule will be split between the middle Sunday and the second Monday.

· The second Tuesday and Wednesday will feature a combination of men’s and women’s quarter-finals.

· The mixed doubles final will be the closing match on the second Thursday.

· The women’s singles final and the men’s doubles final will headline the final on Saturday.

· The men’s singles final and the women’s doubles final will end on Sunday.

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