Elina Svitolina has called on tennis officials to act as she is due to meet her Russian rival Anastasia Potapova
Ukraine’s former world number three Elina Svitolina has refused to face rivals from Russia and Belarus unless they are stripped of their national flag, anthem and all other symbols in the competitions.
Svitolina was scheduled to face Russia’s Anastasia Potapova in the first round of the Monterrey Open in Mexico on Tuesday.
“I think the current situation requires a clear position from our organisations: ATP, WTA and ITF,” Svitolina, 27, wrote in a post shared on social media.
“As such, we – the Ukrainian players – have asked the ATP, WTA and ITF to follow the IOC recommendations to accept Russian or Belarusian. [sic] nationals only as neutral athletes, without displaying national symbols, colors, flags or anthems.
“As a result, I want to announce that I will not be playing Monterrey tomorrow, or any other game against Russians or Belarusians. [sic] tennis players until our organizations make this necessary decision.
“I don’t blame any of the Russian athletes. They are not responsible for invading our homeland.
“Furthermore, I want to pay tribute to all the actors, especially the Russians and the Belarusians, who courageously asserted their position against the war. Their support is essential. added Svitolina, born in Odessa, married to French tennis star Gael Monfils.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Monday recommended that world sports federations refuse to invite Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in international tournaments.
Where this was not possible, the IOC said athletes from both countries should only compete under neutral status.
Olympic officials recommend total ban on Russia and Belarus
Bosses of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) initially appeared confused over their response, with reports that the flags had been removed from all Russian players on their website, only to be returned shortly afterwards.
Russian ace Potapova, 20, responded to the situation with her own statement in which she said professional athletes “are essentially becoming hostages to the situation.”
Russia has been hit with a wave of sporting sanctions since it launched a special military operation in the newly recognized Donbas republics and in Ukraine itself.
Russian officials reacted by calling these measures overtly politicized and even discriminatory.
You can share this story on social media: