Wimbledon allows Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals

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Russian and Belarusian players will be able to compete at Wimbledon as neutral athletes after the All England Club reversed its ban from last year on Friday.

Players at the renowned tennis tournament must sign declarations of impartiality and comply with “appropriate conditions”, including not expressing support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision, not taken lightly or without a great deal of consideration for those who will be impacted,” All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said in a statement.

Contestants cannot receive funding from the Russian or Belarusian governments, including sponsorship from companies operated or controlled by the states.

The All England Club said the conditions were developed through talks with the British government, the LTA and “international stakeholder bodies in tennis”.

Those impacted include Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and Russian players Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev.

Other tennis tournaments have allowed Russian and Belarusian players to compete as neutral athletes.

“We also consider the alignment between the Grand Slams to be increasingly important in the current tennis environment,” the club said.

The same neutrality conditions will apply for Lawn Tennis Association tournaments used by players as grass-court warmups for the sport’s oldest Grand Slam tournament.

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“There was a strong and very disappointing reaction from some governing bodies in tennis to the position taken by the All England Club and the LTA last year with consequences which, if continued, would be damaging to the interests of players, fans, The Championships and British tennis,” the club said.

This year’s Wimbledon tournament will start on July 3. The women’s final is scheduled for July 15 and the men’s final on July 16.

The statement comes amidst the International Olympic Committee’s recommendation of letting Russian and Belarusian athletes compete as neutrals in several events, triggering potential boycott from several countries.

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