Discrimination: Reaction to Wimbledon’s Russia, Belarus ban.

Wimbledon has banned entry to players from Russia, Belarus due to the war in Ukraine.

Russia's Andrey Rublev in action
Rublev is one of three top-10 players who has been blocked from playing at SW19 in June [File: Jed Leicester/Reuters]

Updated by Faith Barbara Namagembe at 1629 EAT on Friday 22 April 2022.

Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players is “complete discrimination” and does not make sense, Andrey Rublev said, while world number one Novak Djokovic said he “cannot support” the “crazy” decision.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club announced on Wednesday that players from the two nations have been banned from competing in the event following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022,” the club said in a statement.

Rublev is one of three top-10 players, alongside compatriot Daniil Medvedev and Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, who has been blocked from playing at the tournament, also known as SW19, in June.

World’s top-ranked male player Djokovic labelled the dicision”crazy”, while Billie Jean King and governing bodies ATP and WTA have also called for a rethink.

“I will always condemn war. I will never support war, being myself a child of war. I know how much emotional trauma it leaves,” said Djokovic.

“However, I cannot support the decision of Wimbledon, I think it is crazy. Players, tennis players, sports people have got nothing to do with that.”

Rublev, whose best finish at Wimbledon came last year when reaching round four, believes there must be a more logical solution.

“What is happening now is complete discrimination against us,” he told reporters after beating Jiri Lehecka on Thursday to progress to the Serbia Open quarter-finals.

“The reasons they gave us had no sense, they were not logical. Banning Russian or Belarusian players … will not change anything.

The Belarusian Tennis Federation released a statement on Thursday saying it is seeking legal advice regarding the decision to ban their players from Wimbledon.

“Such destructive actions in no way contribute to the resolution of conflicts but only incite hatred and intolerance on a national basis,” the governing body said.

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