The All England Lawn Tennis Club made international headlines earlier this week by banning players from Russia and Belarus from competing at this year’s Wimbledon Championships due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which of Belarus a key staging area for military personnel and equipment.
This decision was openly criticized by the current men’s world number one, Novak Djokovic.
According to Sky Sports and Reuters (h/t ESPN), Djokovic, who grew up in war-torn Serbia, denounced the decision while speaking with reporters.
“I will always condemn war; I will never support war being myself a child of war,” Djokovic explained. “I know how emotionally traumatized it is. In Serbia, we all know what happened in 1999. In the Balkans, we have had many wars in recent history.
“However, I can’t support Wimbledon’s decision, I think it’s crazy. When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good.”
Men’s world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev and No. 8 Andrey Rublev, along with women’s world No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka, are among the recognizable names banned from playing in the Grand Slam unless the All England Lawn Tennis Club changes notice before the start of Wimbledon. end of June.
Meanwhile, the ATP and WTA tours have openly criticized the bans.
“It is important to stress that players from Russia and Belarus will continue to be allowed to participate in ATP events under a neutral flag, a position that has until now been shared by all of professional tennis,” the official said. ‘ATP.
The WTA added:
“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 that discrimination against athletes competing on their own as individuals, is neither fair nor justified. The WTA will continue to enforce its rules to reject discrimination and ensure that all athletes can participate in our Tour events if they qualify to do so, a position which until today’s announcement has been shared in professional tennis. The WTA will assess its next steps and any action that may be taken regarding these decisions.”