Russian and Belarusian players banned from competing in Wimbledon 2022

Wimbledon bosses have banned Russian and Belarusian players from competing this year, ITV News Correspondent Neil Connery explains.

Wimbledon officials have banned players from Russia and Belarus from competing in this year's tournament due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and Belarusian support for the war.

A move that governing bodies of men's and women's professional tennis have both called "unfair".

The tournament will be the first tennis event to restrict players from the two nations.

In a statement, Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England Club, said: “We recognise that this is hard on the individuals affected, and it is with sadness that they will suffer for the actions of the leaders of the Russian regime."

The ban will leave a number of highly ranked players out of one of the world's most prestigious tennis events.

Russian and Belarusian players were not allowed to compete at Wimbledon 2022. Credit: PA

Stars including world number two, Daniil Medvedev, who is the reigning US Open men’s singles champion and Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, who is ranked number four in the world, will be unable to compete.

Mr Hewitt added: "We have very carefully considered the alternative measures that might be taken within the UK Government guidance but, given the high profile environment of The Championships, the importance of not allowing sport to be used to promote the Russian regime and our broader concerns for public and player (including family) safety, we do not believe it is viable to proceed on any other basis at The Championships.”

The All England Club have said under the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with The Championships.

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has also supported the ban on all Russian and Belarusian players from the event.

In a statement, the organisation said: "The continuing participation of Russian and Belarusian nationals at events risks providing a boost to these regimes when there is an unprecedented international effort to isolate them and sanction their actions.

"The LTA also recognises that individual Russian and Belarusian players may not agree with the actions of their Governments and this is a situation beyond their control.

"Never-the-less the national governing body believes that it is important to do all it can to support Ukraine at this time, and that this move has the support of the British public."

Daniil Medvedev, the world number two will be banned from the competition, although he is currently recovering from a hernia. Credit: PA

The approach from both major British tennis organisations is hoped to treat Russian and Belarusian players with consistency across all events over the course of this summer.

The statement added: "The decision will impact pro-level adult and junior events in Great Britain and will last whilst the current situation continues in accordance with the UK Government guidance in place.

"The approach will be reviewed regularly and any future changes would be based on discussion with the UK Government. 

"Russian and Belarusian nationals who are not playing in events but who are involved in other official capacities (such as officials or player support), will be subject to the Government guidance requirements."

In a statement the Women's Tennis Association have said while they condemn the actions taken by Russian and its invasion of Ukraine, it is "disappointed" that individual athletes will be banned from Wimbledon.

The thoughts were echoed by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) who called the move "unfair".

A spokeswoman from the Women's Tennis Association said: "A fundamental principal of the WTA is that individual athletes may participate in professional tennis events based on merit and without any form of discrimination.

"That principle is expressly set forth in our rules and has been agreed to by both AELTC and LTA.

"Prohibitions against discrimination are also clearly expressed in their own rules and the Grand Slam rules.

"As the WTA has consistently stated, individual athletes should not be penalised or prevented from competing due to where they are from, or the decisions made by the governments of their countries. 

"Discrimination, and the decision to focus such discrimination against athletes competing on their own as individuals, is neither fair nor justified.

"The WTA will continue to apply its rules to reject discrimination and ensure that all athletes are able to compete at our Tour events should they qualify to do so, a position that until today’s announcement has been shared across professional tennis.

"The WTA will be evaluating its next steps and what actions may be taken regarding these decisions."