And you don’t even need an order. Tennis players from Russia not allowed to Wimbledon?
In early March, a joint decision of the seven major tennis organizations – ATP, WTA, ITF and four Grand Slam tournaments – decided to cancel all tournaments in Russia and Belarus, not allow teams of all ages to participate in team tournaments and allow our athletes to compete in individual events in a neutral status without a country identification – without a flag, anthem and the letter name of the state. This compromise solution suited everyone for a while. Tennis was almost the only sport where our athletes could compete and fight for the top prizes at major tournaments. However, everything changed now.
Nigel Huddleston, Britain’s sports minister, expressed his opinion on whether or not Daniil Medvedev and other Russian tennis players have the right to play at Wimbledon 2022: “We need to make sure that tennis players do not support Putin. And we’re looking at what criteria we can introduce within that framework,” CNN quoted the minister as saying. Medvedev responded to the minister’s statement by saying, “I don’t have any answer for Wimbledon. We’ll have to see what happens next. I try to take each tournament separately. I mean, there are different rules everywhere as to whether or not to play.”
For a while, one could be skeptical of the British sports minister’s words, taking them solely as a private opinion. Because, again, Wimbledon, as well as other tennis organizations, had already decided on the system of the admission of our athletes to the tournament. And we could not be afraid of any additional sanctions. But British newspaper The Telegraph quoted its source in the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and reported that Wimbledon still may not allow Daniil Medvedev and other Russians to the tournament on its own initiative, without any order: “Private clubs have more freedom as to who may be admitted and who may not. They are not subject to the discrimination laws that exist for [ATP, WTA and ITF] tours. If you host a tennis tournament, you have the right to suspend players – if they have been found guilty of, for example, match-fixing or doping – but you have to prove that those actions are reasonable. If tours acted radically, Russian players could complain that they were being stripped of their jobs for something they were not guilty of. However, Wimbledon, which is run by a private club, is on the sidelines of this situation.”
And so on April 6, the situation became more or less clear. The AELTC made an official statement: “We plan to announce a decision before the mid-May deadline. We have taken note of the UK government’s instructions regarding the presence of Russian and Belarusian athletes in neutral status at sporting events in the country. We continue to negotiate with the UK government, the Lawn Tennis Association and the international governing bodies of tennis.” Thus, the situation with the participation of these athletes in Wimbledon will remain frozen until mid-May. Many things can change by that time for the better or for the worse for Russian players.
Former top-10 player and Roland Garros semifinalist of 1989 Andrey Chesnokov gave his opinion on possible non-admission of Russians to Wimbledon: “ATP President said: Let’s finish with the personalities. The rules say what a player has to do. There are 200 pages! Can they get behind the players? Do they have to inoculate against Russia too? Even if someone from Russia gets subsidies from our country, is it criminal? I don’t know how one can play under such pressure. Why should athletes suffer? Everything should be more diplomatic here.
Almost at the same time with the statements about the possible non-admission of our players to Wimbledon the news that Daniil Medvedev had surgery for a hernia and will miss a couple of months. Some experts agreed that the Russian picked a good time to address his health problems, including not getting into arguments around this heated political situation. “The surgery has to be done. I know what it is, Daniel may not even have two months. This might be the best time for the operation not to get into a fight with the British sports minister. Medvedev’s team did everything right. Medvedev will get back on his feet and go out to play. A couple of tournaments will be enough to get him fit. I think he’ll be ready for the US Open. He’ll have enough time. He’s doing really well and he can play five-set tournaments as well. He’ll be fine, there’s no problem,” said Vladimir Kamelzon, Merited Coach of Russia.