Wimbledon and UK government in talks over Russian players

Daniil Medvedev of Russia returns a shot to Gael Monfils of France during the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament Monday, March 14, 2022, in Indian Wells, Calif.  (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Daniil Medvedev of Russia returns a shot to Gael Monfils of France during the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament Monday, March 14, 2022, in Indian Wells, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

PA

Wimbledon organizers are in talks with the UK government over whether Russian tennis players – such as No. 1-ranked Daniil Medvedev – should be allowed into the tournament this year if they don’t distance themselves from President Vladimir Putin because of his country. invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking to lawmakers in London about Wimbledon on Tuesday, UK Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “Absolutely no one should be allowed to fly the Russian flag. Many of us would be willing and able to (allow them to) compete as non-aligned, non-flag-carrying entities. But I think we need to go beyond that. We need potential assurances that they are not Vladimir Putin supporters and we’re looking at what requirements we might need to try to get assurances along those lines.

Asked by an MP about any back and forth with the All England Club, which organizes the grass-court Grand Slam tournament, Huddleston replied: “We are in discussions.”

The All England Club has confirmed discussions are underway with the UK government and tennis governing bodies.

The seven groups that run sport around the world have condemned the war; canceled events in Russia and Belarus, which contributed to the invasion; expelled these two nations from the Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup team competitions; and announced on March 1 that players from these countries will be allowed to participate in WTA, ATP and Grand Slam tournaments, but not under the name or flag of Russia or Belarus.

Russia are the defending Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup champions, but the International Tennis Federation announced on Monday that the country will be replaced in the 2022 finals of each by the highest-ranked losing semi-finalist in 2021. For the Billie Jean King Cup, it’s Australia; for the Davis Cup, it is Serbia.

The Wimbledon deadline for player registrations is May 16.

The tournament is scheduled to start the main draw on June 27.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, the day Medvedev was guaranteed to top the ATP rankings for the first time as he competed in the Mexican Open.

“Watching the news from home, waking up here in Mexico, hasn’t been easy,” Medvedev said then. “Being a tennis player, I want to promote peace all over the world. We play in so many different countries; I’ve been to so many countries as a junior and as a pro. It’s not easy to hear all this news. … I am for peace.

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Naomi C. Amerson