London-based tennis tournament Wimbledon announced that players who hail from Russia and Belarus are prohibited from participating in their 2022 competition.
The event, which is considered to be the top tennis tournament in the world, will not allow the athletes to play, despite previously letting players compete as long as they didn’t represent their countries.
“We share in the universal condemnation of Russia’s illegal actions and have carefully considered the situation,” Wimbledon said in a statement on Wednesday.
\The All England Club said that it was their “responsibility” to play their part to “limit Russia’s global influence through the strongest means possible” given the high profile of the tournament.
“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,” the message read.
“It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022,” they statement concluded.
The decision wasn’t made lightly, and they “recognise that this is hard on the individuals affected,” but due to public and player safety concerns, there was no other alternative.
However, if the circumstances of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “change materially,” before Wimbledon kicks off on June 27, the committee will “consider and respond accordingly.”
Top tennis player, Novak Djokovic, who was embroiled in a vaccine controversy at the Australian Open earlier this year, called the decision “crazy.”
“I will always condemn war, I will never support war being myself a child of war,” Djokovic remarked. “I know how much emotional trauma it leaves. In Serbia we all know what happened in 1999. In the Balkans we have had many wars in recent history.”
“However, I cannot support the decision of Wimbledon, I think it is crazy,” he continued. “When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good.”