Russian and Belorussian tennis players will not be allowed to compete at Wimbledon this year. Officials cited the “unjustified and unprecedented military aggression” in Ukraine, according to a joint statement from The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and the Committee of Management of The Championships. Among the barred players is Daniil Medvedev, who is ranked No. 2 in the world.
U.K. Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston previously said that “nobody flying the flag for Russia should be allowed or enabled” to compete at Wimbledon in a statement last month. Huddleston and others now believe that the new ban will send a “strong message.”
Tennis and British government officials had discussed a plan that would allow Russian and Belorussian tennis players to compete, but only if they publicly denounced Putin. That plan was ultimately scrapped, however, and athletes from the two countries will be banned outright.
The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) also announced on Wednesday that it is banning Russian and Belarusian players at its events so that British tennis can deliver “a consistent approach across all events over the course of the summer.”
Among the affected players are Daniil Medvedev, who is ranked No. 2 in the world men’s rankings and women’s No. 4 in the world Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.
Medvedev, who won last year’s tournament, has said that he tries not to involve himself in politics. “I want to promote my sport, promote it in my country for sure also. Right now, the situation is this is the only way we can play so that’s what I’m going to do. I will try to fight on the court and try to win the tournaments and try to beat the other guys,” Medvedev told Yahoo Sports last month.
Tennis officials have penalized the two countries in numerous other competitions leading up to Wimbledon. Russian tennis players were not allowed to defend their titles at two team events: the Davis Cup and last week’s Billie Jean King Cup. The WTA and ATP have also suspended a combined event set to take place in Moscow this fall, and the International Tennis Federation also canceled its events in Russia.
Athletes from Russia and Belarus have been allowed to remain on the ATP and WTA tours, though they have not been allowed to compete under their native flags.
Russian and Belorussian tennis players are currently allowed to compete at the French Open next month, but this is subject to change.
Clubs and players from the two countries have been barred from numerous competitions since the conflict in Ukraine expanded. Russian teams have been banned from prestigious, continent-wide European soccer tournaments, while the Russian national team was even scrubbed from EA’s FIFA video game. Both countries have also been barred from global ice hockey events.