European nations ‘set to copy’ Wimbledon ban on Russian and Belarusian players

Wimbledon may have started a trend as other European nations are reportedly ready to ban Russian and Belarusian players from tournaments. British tennis are hoping more countries will join them in enforcing a ban to save its events from being sanctioned by the ATP and WTA tours.

The authorities in Rome are considering the possibility of preventing players from both nations from competing in next month's Italian Open, one the last clay-court events before Roland Garros. According to the Mail, sources suggest several northern European territories who host professional events, especially across Scandinavia, are now thinking along the same lines.

The sport’s most prestigious event has received backlash from players both past and present, as well as WTA chief Steve Simon. He confirmed that the move goes against the agreement between the governing body and Wimbledon.

“The announcement that came out was extremely disappointing, to say the least,” he told the The Tennis Podcast. “The one thing that this sport has always agreed upon – we don't agree on a lot of things but the one thing we have always been united on – was that entry into our events… has always been based up on merit and without discrimination.

"We don't have the same jurisdiction over the Grand Slams as we do [over] our own sanctioned events. We have precedents… where these situations may have occurred where fines and tournament sanctions have been imposed.

"We need to sit down with our tournament, our player councils and I suppose our board and see where everything's at. I do think that you'll see some strong reactions that will come from us, but what those are and how far they'll go is still to be determined."

The ATP released a strongly-worded statement to the announcement, branding it 'unfair.' “We strongly condemn Russia’s reprehensible invasion of Ukraine and stand in solidarity with the millions of innocent people affected by the ongoing war,” their statement read. “Our sport is proud to operate on the fundamental principles of merit and fairness, where players compete as individuals to earn their place in tournaments based on the ATP Rankings.

"We believe that today’s unilateral decision by Wimbledon and the LTA to exclude players from Russia and Belarus from this year’s British grass-court swing is unfair and has the potential to set a damaging precedent for the game. Discrimination based on nationality also constitutes a violation of our agreement with Wimbledon that states that player entry is based solely on ATP Rankings. Any course of action in response to this decision will now be assessed in consultation with our Board and Member councils.

“It is important to stress that players from Russia and Belarus will continue to be allowed to compete at ATP events under a neutral flag, a position that has until now been shared across professional tennis.” In another gesture to show their support, both tours are considering preserving the rankings of the Russian and Belarusian tennis players prevented from competing at the All England Club.

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