The Kremlin has accused Wimbledon of trying to turn Russian athletes into “hostages of political prejudice” as the tournament bans tennis players from the country from competing this year.
On Wednesday, the All England Club, which hosts the Grand Slam tournament, released a statement confirming previous reports that no Russian or Belarusian players will be admitted to the tournament in 2022 amid the war in Ukraine.
“It is our responsibility to play our part in the widespread efforts of government, industry, sports and creative institutions to limit Russia’s global influence by the strongest possible means,” the statement said. UK was released.
“In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to take any advantage of the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players in The Championships.
“It is therefore our intention, with great regret, to refuse registrations of Russian and Belarusian players for The Championships 2022.”
Ahead of the official confirmation of the ban, on Tuesday, Sportico had reported that Russian stars would be barred from Wimbledon, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded to those reports on Wednesday morning.
“Again, they are simply making athletes hostages of political prejudice and political intrigue,” Peskov said, according to an AFP report.
“This is unacceptable.”
“Taking into account that Russia is a very strong tennis country, our athletes are at the top of the world rankings, the competition itself will suffer from their removal,” he added.Dmitry Peskov is one of Vladimir Putin’s chief lieutenants. NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP via Getty Images
Peskov did not name individual athletes, but was probably referring to Russia’s two highest-ranked players, world number two Daniil Medvedev and world number eight Andrey Rublev.
Medvedev’s fame in tennis and the likelihood that he could win Wimbledon is a major reason for the ban, the Daily Telegraph reported.
This fear is compounded, the Telegraph added in another report, by the fact that the Wimbledon trophy is usually presented by a member of the British Royal Family.
Shortly after Wimbledon announced the exclusion of Russian athletes, the ATP, which oversees elite men’s tennis, criticized the decision, saying it “sets a damaging precedent for the game”.
“We believe that today’s unilateral decision by Wimbledon and the LTA to exclude players from Russia and Belarus from this year’s UK grass-swing is unfair and has the potential to set a damaging precedent for the competition,” it reads.
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