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Wimbledon stripped of ranking points for banning Russian and Belarussian athletes

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The ATP and WTA have stripped Wimbledon of its ranking points over its decision to exclude players from Russia and Belarus at this year’s championships due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The tennis governing bodies had banned Russia and Belarus from international team competitions following the invasion, but they have allowed players from the two countries to compete as neutrals.

But Wimbledon has gone one step further and banned the athletes outright, prompting the ATP and WTA tours to strip the grand slam of its ranking points, which effectively reduces the world’s most famous tennis tournament to an exhibition event.

“The ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination, is fundamental to our Tour,” the ATP said in a statement.

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“The decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the UK this summer undermines this principle and the integrity of the ATP Ranking system. It is also inconsistent with our Rankings agreement.

“Absent a change in circumstances, it is with great regret and reluctance that we see no option but to remove ATP Ranking points from Wimbledon for 2022.”

“The recent decisions made by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to ban athletes from competing in the upcoming UK grass court events violate that fundamental principle,” Simon said.

“As a result of the AELTC’s position that it will not honour its obligation to use the WTA rankings for entry into Wimbledon and proceed with a partial field not based on merit, the WTA has made the difficult decision to not award WTA ranking points for this year’s Wimbledon Championships.”

Wimbledon organisers say they had no choice

The move by the AELTC, the organiser of the grass-court grand slam, is the first time players have been banned on grounds of nationality since the immediate post-World War II era when German and Japanese players were excluded.

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The AELTC has previously said the ban on Russian and Belarusian players was its only viable option under the guidance provided by the British government.

On Friday, the AELTC reiterated its stance, adding it was considering its options and was in discussions with its grand slam colleagues.

“We therefore wish to state our deep disappointment at the decisions taken by the ATP, WTA and ITF in removing ranking points for The Championships.

“We believe these decisions to be disproportionate in the context of the exceptional and extreme circumstances of this situation and the position we found ourselves in, and damaging to all players who compete on Tour.”

Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players has been slammed by top players such as 21-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal who labelled it unfair, and world number one Novak Djokovic, who said he did not support the decision.

“Our rules and agreements exist in order to protect the rights of players as a whole. Unilateral decisions of this nature, if unaddressed, set a damaging precedent for the rest of the tour,” the ATP added.

“Discrimination by individual tournaments is simply not viable on a tour that operates in more than 30 countries.

“We remain hopeful of further discussions with Wimbledon leading to an acceptable outcome for all concerned.

“More broadly, we believe this matter again highlights the need for a united governance structure across professional tennis so that decisions of this nature can be made in a joint manner.”

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are unhappy with the organisers of Wimbledon banning Russian and Belarusian players.(Getty Images)

While Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) reciprocated the Wimbledon ban by excluding players from the two countries from its tune-up tour events, its decision is still under review by the ATP and WTA and also faces potential sanctions.

Meanwhile, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) said it would not grant ranking points to Wimbledon this year for junior and wheelchair tennis events.

“The ITF has determined that Wimbledon’s entry criteria banning Russians and Belarusians compromises the integrity of its international competition, in particular its ranking system, as there is a lack of alternative equivalent opportunities for players to compete for ranking points and prize money,” the ITF said.

Reuters/ABC

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