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Wimbledon Lifts Year-Long Ban for Russian and Belarussian Players

The All England Club and Lawn Tennis Association has made the decision of allowing Russian and Belarussian players to participate in this year's 2023 Wimbledon and other British grass-court tennis tournaments. 


The  sanction was applied for the Russian and Belarussian players last year  after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.


The chairman of All England Club, Ian Hewitt, shared the decision on The Championships Wimbledon website, emphasising how it was “an incredibly difficult decision, not taken lightly or without a great deal of consideration for those who will be impacted.” 


Hewitt added that the arraignments were appropriate for this year’s champion after considering all the factors. 


“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,” Hewitt said. 


Hewitt also mentioned the organisation will “continue to condemn totally Russia’s illegal invasion and our wholehearted support remains with the people of Ukraine.”  


To compete in Wimbledon and other British grass-court championships, Russian and Belarusian players will need to agree and sign neutrality agreements. The key points highlighted in the agreements were Russian and Belarusian players will not represent their states, players will not show any support for the Russian invasion and players will not be funded by their countries or any companies from the country. Players will compete in Wimbledon and other British grass-court tennis tournaments as neutral players and any players who don't follow these key points will not participate.   


The United Kingdom Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer expressed her support for the decision. 


“Individual, self - funded Russian and Belarusian athletes can compete in the UK, subject to following our guidance on neutrality,” Frazer stated. “We, therefore, support the approach of the All England Tennis club and the Lawn Tennis Association based on following that guidance.”


However, Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba reacted to the statement on Twitter by commenting that the decision to include Russian and Belarusian players is immoral.


“Has Russia ceased its aggression on atrocities? No, it’s just that Wimbledon decided to accommodate two accomplices in crime, “Kulebra stated. “I call on the UK government to deny visas to their players.” 


The 2023 Wimbledon Championships is scheduled  to start on July 3, 2023, and  end on July 16, 2023. 

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