London [UK], April 1 (ANI): Wimbledon lifted its ban on Russian and Belarusian players and will allow them to compete in the Grand Slam this year as "neutral" athletes, the organisers announced on Friday.
Those who compete as "neutral" athletes and abide by "suitable criteria" will be allowed to compete in the Grand Slam in July.
In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Wimbledon barred players from Russia and Belarus last year. In 2022, Wimbledon's ranking points were taken away due to the ban.
In 2022, Wimbledon and the Lawn Tennis Association banned players from Russia and Belarus from the Championships. The judgement has already been overturned, and players from Russia and Belarus will be permitted to compete at Wimbledon this summer provided they do so as 'neutral' sportsmen and adhere to the necessary regulations.
The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) said if the ban remained, there was "a real prospect of the termination of our membership", leading to the cancellation of events at Queen's, Eastbourne, Birmingham and Nottingham.
"Our current intention is to accept entries from Russian and Belarusian players subject to them competing as 'neutral' athletes and complying with appropriate conditions. These will prohibit expressions of support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine in various forms and prohibit entry by players receiving funding from the Russian and/or Belarusian states (including sponsorship from companies operated or controlled by the states) in relation to their participation in The Championships," All England Club's statement read.
"The conditions have been carefully developed through constructive dialogue with the UK Government, the LTA and international stakeholder bodies in tennis, and are aligned with the Government's published guidance to sporting bodies in the UK. Three developments, taken together, have informed our current position: The option of personal player declarations was not in our view viable last year," it further read.
"We continue to condemn totally Russia's illegal invasion and our wholehearted support remains with the people of Ukraine. This was an incredibly difficult decision, not taken lightly or without a great deal of consideration for those who will be impacted," Ian Hewitt, Chairman of the All England Club, said.
"It is our view that, considering all factors, these are the most appropriate arrangements for The Championships for this year. We are thankful for the Government's support as we and our fellow tennis stakeholder bodies have navigated this complex matter and agreed on conditions we believe are workable," he added.
"If circumstances change materially between now and the commencement of The Championships, we will consider and respond accordingly," Hewitt said. (ANI)