Wimbledon has ranking points stripped by ATP over Russian and Belarusian player ban

ITV News Reporter Sejal Karia tells ITV News Presenter Rageh Omaar about how Wimbledon will be stripped of its ATP ranking points over a ban on Russian and Belarusian players.

Wimbledon will be stripped of its ATP ranking points for 2022 after it decided to ban Russian and Belarusian players from taking part in the London tournament.

The ATP said "the ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination, is fundamental" to the tour.

It argued Wimbledon's decision to stop Russian and Belarusian players from competing this year "undermines the principle and integrity" of its ranking system and that "discrimination by individual tournaments is simply not viable" on a tour which operates in 30 countries.

Announcing the ban last month, Wimbledon said the prominence of the competition meant it had "a responsibility to play its part in the widespread efforts of government, industry, sporting and creative institutions to limit Russia’s global influence through the strongest means possible".

Martina Navratilova, who won a record nine Wimbledon singles titles, told ITV News that "this was the fairest way to deal with what is an unfortunate situation all round".

A Wimbledon spokesperson said: "In 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."

Wimbledon said the decision would be reconsidered if "circumstances changed materially" between the announcement and the tournament.

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.

Some tennis players have criticised the move, amid claims that it sends the wrong message about the invasion of Ukraine.

Sergiy Stakhovsky, a top Ukrainian tennis player who defeated Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2013, said it would be an understatement to say he was disappointed in the ATP.

"Never would expect that anyone can stand on the side of invaders and murderers," he tweeted.

A statement from the ATP said: "We greatly value our long-standing relationships with Wimbledon and the Lawn Tennis Association and do not underestimate the difficult decisions faced in responding to recent UK Government guidance.

"However, we note that this was informal guidance, not a mandate, which offered an alternative option that would have left the decision in the hands of individual players competing as neutral athletes through a signed declaration."

The ATP said it "remains hopeful" that further discussions will lead to "an acceptable outcome for all concerned".

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

The ATP statement finished: "Our condemnation of Russia’s devastating invasion of Ukraine remains unequivocal. Immediate action was taken to suspend the ATP Tour event in Moscow and have Russian and Belarusian athletes compete under neutral flags on Tour.

"In parallel, we have continued our humanitarian support for Ukraine, together with the other governing bodies of tennis, as well as providing direct financial assistance to many affected players."

Speaking after the announcement of the ban, 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.

"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.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know... 

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries criticised the ATP's decision and said it does not send the right message to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

She said: “The international sporting community rightly moved quickly and came together to condemn Putin’s illegal and barbaric actions in Ukraine.

“Given the importance of sport and cultural bodies in making the Russian government an international pariah, we stand squarely behind the decision that Wimbledon and the LTA have taken to stand up for what is right.

“We deeply regret today’s decision and urge the ATP to consider its stance on ranking points at the championships. It does not send the right message to either Putin or the people of Ukraine.”