Wimbledon Officially Bans Russian And Belarusian Tennis Pros Over Ukraine Conflict 

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Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Update (1142ET): A statement published by the All England Club has declared that all Russian and Belarusian tennis pros will be banned from participating at Wimbledon this year because of the conflict in Ukraine. 

"It is our responsibility to play our part in the widespread efforts … to limit Russia's global influence through the strongest means possible," the statement read. "In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with The Championships."

Here's the full statement: 

On behalf of the All England Club and the Committee of Management of The Championships, we wish to express our ongoing support for all those impacted by the conflict in Ukraine during these shocking and distressing times.

We share in the universal condemnation of Russia's illegal actions and have carefully considered the situation in the context of our duties to the players, to our community and to the broader UK public as a British sporting institution. We have also taken into account guidance set out by the UK Government specifically in relation to sporting bodies and events.

Given the profile of The Championships in the United Kingdom and around the world, it is our responsibility to play our part in the widespread efforts of Government, industry, sporting and creative institutions to limit Russia's global influence through the strongest means possible.

In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with The Championships.

It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022.

Ian Hewitt, Chairman of the All England Club, commented: "We recognise that this is hard on the individuals affected, and it is with sadness that they will suffer for the actions of the leaders of the Russian regime.

"We have very carefully considered the alternative measures that might be taken within the UK Government guidance but, given the high profile environment of The Championships, the importance of not allowing sport to be used to promote the Russian regime and our broader concerns for public and player (including family) safety, we do not believe it is viable to proceed on any other basis at The Championships."

If circumstances change materially between now and June, we will consider and respond accordingly.

We also welcome the LTA's decision in declining entries from Russian and Belarusian players to UK events to ensure that British tennis is delivering a consistent approach across the summer.

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Wimbledon will be the first major tennis tournament to ban players from Russia and Belarus due to the invasion of Ukraine, according to The NYTimes, citing a top international tennis official with direct knowledge of the situation.

As Paul Joseph Watson reports, the ban contradicts the statements of WTA chief Steve Simon, who last month asserted that individual athletes shouldn’t be punished for the actions of their governments.

“You never know what the future may bring. But I can tell you that we have never banned athletes from participating on our tour as the result of political positions their leadership may take,” said Simon.

The decision supersedes an earlier directive by tennis authorities the ITF, WTA and ATP which said that Russian and Belarusian players could continue to appear at tour events, but only as neutrals and without displaying national colors.

The decision was made after top UK tennis authorities and lawmakers held discussions over whether to ban Russian and Belarussian athletes.

On Tuesday, the Lawn Tennis Association was in "complex" talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the issue. 

The Kremlin reacted angrily to the reports deeming it "unacceptable".

"Once again they simply turn athletes into hostages to political prejudice, political intrigues," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"This is unacceptable."

"Taking into account that Russia is a very strong tennis country, our athletes are at the top of world rankings, the competition itself will suffer from their removal," he added.

The ban will affect several players, notably Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. 

Nigel Huddleston, the British sports minister, told a parliamentary hearing in March that Russians should show their ideological conformity to the current narrative surrounding the war to be able to compete. 

"We need some potential assurance that they are not supporters of Putin and we are considering what requirements we may need to try and get some assurances along those lines," said Huddleston.

However, competing as a neutral athlete wasn't good enough for Huddleston and UK lawmakers, as the outright ban of these players appears to be imminently announced. 

Russophobia is on full display in the UK. Keeping a bunch of Russian tennis pros out of sporting events will have absolutely no impact on Russia's war effort in Ukraine. 

Wimbledon hasn't banned players from specific countries since the end of World War II. 

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