Wimbledon still has its 'concerns' after ending ban on Russian, Belarusian players

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Wimbledon still has its 'concerns' after ending ban on Russian, Belarusian players
Wimbledon still has its 'concerns' after ending ban on Russian, Belarusian players (Provided by Tennis World USA)

Wimbledon chief executive Sally Bolton admits there are still concerns at The All England Club that success of Russian and Belarusian players could be used as propaganda by the Russian and Belarusian regimes. On Friday, Wimbledon officially announced that Russian and Belarusian players will be allowed to return to The Championships in 2023.

"That remains somewhat of a concern," Bolton told the BBC, when asked if their decision opens the door for Russian and Belarusian leaders to use success of their players as propaganda. However, the Wimbledon organizers will try to do their best to avoid scenarios where a Russian or Belarusian player shows support to the Russian or Belarusian regime.

At Wimbledon, Russian and Belarusian participants will be mandated to comply with a specific set of conditions. "Russian and Belarusian athletes that compete this year will be signing a neutrality declaration that requires them not to express support for the invasion or the regimes, not to be financially supported by the regimes or companies closely linked, and compete as neutrals without the flag or country name associated," Bolton said.

Wimbledon still feels for Ukraine and their people

The ATP and WTA made it very clear to Wimbledon that another ban on Russian and Belarusian players would result in major repercussions. The LTA - the governing body of tennis in Great Britain - didn't want to risk losing the right to stage the main-level events in Great Britain.

According to Bolton, Wimbledon's views on Ukraine haven't changed a bit. "We appreciate it is an incredibly challenging time for them as they compete on the tour but they have been competing on the tour alongside Russian and Belarusian athletes for a year.

Our position on Russia's invasion hasn't changed, we absolutely condemn that and our wholehearted support remains with the people of Ukraine," Bolton noted. In their statement on Friday, Wimbledon said they had to make a decision that wouldn't damage the future of tennis in Great Britain.