The All England Club has defended its decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s Wimbledon, in light of the ATP and WTA’s move to remove ranking points from the event.
The third major of the year will resemble a high-class exhibition event, albeit one with Grand Slams and huge prize money on the line, after the governing bodies announced no ranking points would be accrued as not all players were able to compete.
Wimbledon took its decision to ban Russian and Belarusian competitors following the invasion of Ukraine.
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The All England Club defended its stance in the face of the ranking points announcement, insisting it did not want to hand Russia the chance to piggyback on the event - and described the governing bodies’ move as ‘disproportionate’.
The statement read: “We appreciate that opinions differ in relation to our decision to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships this year, and we deeply regret the impact of this decision on the individuals affected.
“However, given the position taken by the UK Government to limit Russia's global influence, which removed automatic entry by ranking, and the widespread response of Government, industry, sport and creative institutions, we remain of the view that we have made the only viable decision for Wimbledon as a globally renowned sporting event and British institution, and we stand by the decision we have made.
“As we have previously stated, after careful consideration against a variety of factors, and bound to act in accordance with the directive guidance from the UK Government, we came to two firm conclusions that formed the basis for this decision.
We were not prepared to take any actions which could risk the personal safety of players, or their families. We believe that requiring written declarations from individual players – and that would apply to all relevant players – as a condition of entry in the high-profile circumstances of Wimbledon would carry significant scrutiny and risk.
“In addition, we remain unwilling to accept success or participation at Wimbledon being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime, which, through its closely controlled State media, has an acknowledged history of using sporting success to support a triumphant narrative to the Russian people.
“We therefore wish to state our deep disappointment at the decisions taken by the ATP, WTA and ITF in removing ranking points for The Championships. We believe these decisions to be disproportionate in the context of the exceptional and extreme circumstances of this situation and the position we found ourselves in, and damaging to all players who compete on Tour.”
Despite standing by its initial decision, the All England Club said it was mulling over its next move. The ATP said the decision on ranking points could shift if Wimbledon reversed its decision.
“We are considering our options, and we are reserving our position at this stage,” the All England Club’s statement continued. “We are also in discussion with our Grand Slam colleagues.”
The third Grand Slam of the year gets underway at Wimbledon on June 27.
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