Wimbledon has just lifted a ban on Russian and Belarusian players, saying that they will be allowed to compete in this year’s Grand Slam as “neutral” athletes.
The decision to bar players had drawn criticism at the time, and it was expected that it would be reversed. Wimbledon officials stood by their decision, issuing a statement in which they said that going forward with and keeping the policy in place would be “damaging” to the tournament and to the sport at large. In their statement, officials said, “Extensive engagement with the Government and tennis stakeholder bodies has clarified and developed the form of declarations and produced workable measures for their implementation and enforcement. This approach has the full support of the Government and the LTA , ATP, WTA and ITF.”
If they are able to comply with certain rules and conditions, players from the two countries will be able to compete this summer; these rules include refraining from expressing support for the invasion of Ukraine and no government funding from their respective countries. Sponsorship from state-owned companies is not allowed.
Those looking to benefit the most from this reversal are Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, who just won the Australian Open in January. She is ranked second in the world. Also likely to benefit is Daniil Medvedev, the 2021 U.S. Open champion, who is fifth in the men’s rankings.