Estonia and Latvia closed their borders for tennis players from Russia
The International Tennis Federation can now deprive tournaments in the Baltic countries of ranking points
The Estonian government banned Russian and Belarusian tennis players from taking part in the tournaments on the territory of this country. Our athletes learned about it from the announcement of the International Tennis Federation on the withdrawal of Russian players from the women’s tournament with a prize fund of 25 thousand dollars in the Estonian Pärnu. “International sport is in no way separated from politics now, Russia and Belarus use sport to achieve their strategic goals. This decision sends a clear signal,” acting Estonian Culture Minister Liina Kersna explained the incident. In June, the Russians and Belarusians were denied entry to the ITF tournament in Liepaja by the Latvian Tennis Union.
It is not good to discriminate someone
To begin with it is necessary to explain that we speak about small tournaments where usually players of the “third echelon” take part. Such tournaments in the Baltics is a good way to gain ranking points having spent comparatively little money for the trip. True, now the athletes denied admission have an obvious financial loss – the performance in Pärnu could have been tied up in complicated logistics, plus all ticket and hotel reservations would have to be canceled. “And you’re going to say that’s really fair? Remember that when you say how bad it is to discriminate against someone. Sport should be out of politics,” wrote in social networks 19-year-old Russian tennis player Elina Zakharova, who suffered from the decision of the Estonian authorities.
Officially the organizer of Pärnu and Liepaja tournaments is not women’s tennis association but the international federation. But ITF implements the same strategy concerning Russian and Belorussian players that WTA does – representatives of these countries are allowed to play in a neutral status. That is why, when the Wimbledon tournament rejected the bids of Russians and Belarusians for political reasons, the sanctions followed – the British “major” was deprived of rating points and fined. If we follow this logic, now similar penalties should be applied to the tennis competitions in Estonia and Latvia. Last year eight girls from Russia and Belarus played in Liepaja, and four in Pärnu.
To help the victims
Closing the Liepaja tournament for the Russians a month ago caused quite a scandal, so even WTA head Steve Simon had to comment on it. We stick to the principle that athletes may enter tournaments according to their ranking,” the official said at the time. – We have already asked the ITF to help the affected tennis players find other tournaments, as previously happened with tournaments in Great Britain and Germany. The ITF assured us that they are ready to fully support the players so that they have an equal opportunity to participate in tournaments according to their ranking position.”
“All sports organizations need to think about this, because it turns out that this could turn into anything,” Duma deputy Svetlana Zhurova told “SE. – Ms. Zhurova said: “Today it’s Russia, and tomorrow there will be something else: we like this, and we don’t like that. Everything will eventually come to an end, and Latvia or Lithuania may say, “You know, we’ve never liked Russia at all; therefore, we will never allow Russian athletes to visit us. It’s a matter of opening a Pandora’s box. We can expect such reactions in the future as well, so it is better to avoid such situations now. The tennis players tried to be more neutral after all.
Russians travel through Estonia to visit the Louvre
Earlier, Estonian authorities banned Russian band “Hands Up” as well as Polina Gagarina and Philip Kirkorov from entering the country. Latvian Foreign Ministry blacklisted 25 Russian cultural figures after the concert at Luzhniki. In addition, Latvian athletes are now banned from signing contracts with teams from Russia and Belarus. In principle, Estonia and Latvia are now trying to move in the forefront of anti-Russian sanctions, not only in culture and sports. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia has announced that it is preparing proposals to the European Union (EU) to suspend the issuance of Schengen visas to Russians. The head of the foreign ministry of the Baltic Republic, Urmas Reinsalu, said that he did not like the situation in which “Russian citizens travel in droves through Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to visit the Louvre.
Cases of cancellation of athletes for political reasons are quite rare, but sometimes it happens when national authorities deny entry visas to competitors. This sometimes happens to Israeli athletes in Muslim countries. Also, the U.S. and its allies sometimes deny entry to athletes from Iran, especially when they are associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. And at the recent World Athletics Championships, dozens of athletes were unable to obtain U.S. work visas because of bureaucratic delays at the State Department office. There are currently no restrictions on athletes from Western countries competing in Russia.