On Friday, the organizers of the Wimbledon tennis tournament announced that unlike last year’s tournament, they will be accepting applications from players from Russia and Belarus this season. However, as with the International Olympic Committee recommendations issued a few days ago, the release of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club contains criteria to be reserved at the minimum, and at the maximum, for participation in neutral status. Russians and Belarusians alike”, but in a more sophisticated way.
As you know, last year Wimbledon was the only Grand Slam tournament that did not accept Russian and Belarusian tennis players. The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) responded – turning the historically most prestigious tournament in the world into a kind of show performance, depriving the organizers of the right to award discriminatory ratings to participants. on nationality.
For the second year in a row, the All England Club did not want to confront the organizations that announced a year ago that they would not export Russian and Belarusian tennis players without any advice from the IOC. “The position we took last year has had ramifications that, if continued, would harm the interests of players, fans, the tournament and British tennis.” This quote explains why Wimbledon has decided to take a different path this season.
Kafelnikov calls the expected return of Russian tennis players to Wimbledon
However, judging by the wording in the release, this path can be full of pitfalls. There, he says, “Russian and Belarusian tennis players must compete in a neutral status, fulfilling certain conditions.” “It is forbidden to support Russia’s actions in Ukraine” – this is the most understandable. None of our tennis players in the ATP and WTA tours expressed this.
But what does “the participation of players receiving funds from the states of Russia and Belarus, including sponsorship of companies managed or controlled by states” mean? On the one hand, tennis players applying to participate in Wimbledon are in such financial situation that they can sponsor anyone themselves. For example, Daniil Medvedev, Russia’s strongest player, has officially earned more than two million dollars in 2023 alone. Roman Safiullin, who is 104th in the world rankings and can also enter the main draw of Wimbledon, of course received less in the three months of this year, but this is a very solid 147 thousand dollars.
However, in tennis, as in all other sports, the Russian national team has an official composition, which consists of Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Daria Kasatkina and our other racket masters. Everyone in the national team also receives a salary from the Ministry of Sports. Roughly speaking, it’s clear that it’s a penny compared to the income they get from their performance in professional tournaments – but the Brits might well call it “state funding” to fault it.
Famous tennis player spoke about the acceptance of Russians to Wimbledon
Finally, the statement reads: “Last year, the personal statement option was not available. Since then, our active relationship with government and relevant tennis organizations has allowed us to improve the format of statements and develop effective measures for their enforcement and compliance. This approach is based on the UK government, All England Club Full support of Asia Pacific, WTA and ITF.”
It is assumed that these are some documents that they must sign in order to participate in Wimbledon, as it has not been reported anywhere during all this time that Russian and Belarusian tennis players are required to make any declarations. But what will be included in these statements? There are no details about the publication, the tennis organizations named at the time of writing this material have not yet responded to requests from RIA Novosti. And maybe there, actually, anything. For example, the request to denounce the SVO, which they tried to present to Russian skiers, according to Elena Vyalbe, the head of the Russian racing federation, and the head of the Russian Ski Racing Federation.
Of course, it’s possible that Russian and Belarusian tennis players made some statements last year – regardless of the process – and the All England Club has now decided to recall it to protect itself from criticism as much as possible. . But this has already been acknowledged: they described the intention in Ukraine to allow Russians and Belarusians to enter Wimbledon as “immoral” and urged the British government not to issue visas to Russian and Belarusian tennis players. It is not known for certain. One thing is clear – the similarity of this situation to the situation that has developed around the recommendations of the IOC.
Thomas Bach and his comrades seem to recommend that Russian and Belarusian athletes be allowed to compete – but with the conditions under which a categorical minority will comply, and among those who are allowed, the initial reaction is far from censorship. Wimbledon theoretically seems to allow Russians and Belarusians – but in practice it may well turn out that none of them will reach the emerald courts in the London suburbs. In general, the situation where the phrase “the devil is in the details” is close to its direct meaning: the IOC, where the organizers of Wimbledon are absolutely not partial in their attitude towards athletes from Russia and Belarus.
African athletes supported the conditions of the IOC for the admission of Russians
With a passion for storytelling and reporting, I am an experienced writer and Editor with a focus on sports. As an Author at News Unrolled, I write engaging stories on the latest developments in the world of sports. My articles have been featured on numerous global media outlets and my work has been highly praised by renowned editors.