Medvedev criticizes ‘unfair’ Wimbledon ban for Russian players

Russian tennis star Daniil Medvedev has called the banning of Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Wimbledon tournament this summer “unfair”.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), which organizes the prestigious tournament, indefinitely banned Russian and Belarusian tennis players from competing last month in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking ahead of this week’s Geneva Open in Switzerland, Medvedev, the men’s tennis world number 2, said he found the ban “unfair” but would be “happy to play” if a decision was taken to cancel it.

“On the one hand, I can understand [the decision] and, on the other hand, I find it unfair,” Medvedev told Swiss media on Sunday, according to to the state-run TASS news agency.

The decision to ban Russian and Belarus players from Wimbledon has sparked controversy, with critics saying the sport must remain apolitical and unfairly punishes athletes who may oppose the war.

Shortly after Russia sent troops to Ukraine on Feb. 24, Medvedev, 26, mentioned he was “all for peace”.

Medvedev’s compatriot Andrey Rublev, ranked No. 7 in the world, wrote ‘No war please’ on a camera lens after winning a semi-final just days after the war started in Ukraine.

Men’s world number one Novak Djokovic criticized the AELTC’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from Wimbledon last month in an interview with ESPN.

“I can’t support Wimbledon’s decision, I think it’s crazy. When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good,” the 34-year-old Serb said.

The Kremlin meanwhile accused Wimbledon organizers turn Russian athletes into “hostages of political prejudice”.

Wimbledon President Ian Hewitt defended the AELTC’s decision, saying “there is no viable alternative in this truly exceptional and tragic situation”.

The tournament will take place from June 27 to July 10.

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