Ben Kentish 10pm - 1am
Wimbledon bans top Russian and Belarusian stars from competing over Ukraine invasion
20 April 2022, 15:46 | Updated: 20 April 2022, 15:55
Russian tennis players will not be allowed to compete at Wimbledon this year, as the sporting body responds the the invasion of Ukraine.
The All England Club’s main committee announced the decision today, as hopes of peace talks fade as Russian troops continue to bombard the Donbass region of Ukraine.
Belarusians players will also be banned from competing in this year's Grand Slam.
Organisers said in a statement that "with deep regret" they would have to "decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022."
The move will be a huge blow for world number two Daniil Medvedev and women's number four Aryna Sabalenka.
The decision has been made ahead of the tournament’s scheduled annual press conference next week.
Ian Hewitt, Chairman of the All England Club, said: “We recognise that this is hard on the individuals affected, and it is with sadness that they will suffer for the actions of the leaders of the Russian regime.
"We have very carefully considered the alternative measures that might be taken within the UK Government guidance but, given the high profile environment of The Championships, the importance of not allowing sport to be used to promote the Russian regime and our broader concerns for public and player (including family) safety, we do not believe it is viable to proceed on any other basis at The Championships.”
"If circumstances change materially between now and June, we will consider and respond accordingly," organisers said.
The All England Club is the first governing body to ban Russian athletes in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The French Open is not following suit as the governing bodies issued a joint declaration banning Russian and Belarusian teams from competition, but allowing individuals to carry on playing without a flag besides their name.
It is the latest sporting blow to Russia after the country was kicked out of the World Cup play-offs and the European Championships.
FIFA and UEFA suspended Russian clubs and national teams from all competitions until "football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people".
Russian and Belarusian athletes were also stopped from competing in this year's Beijing Winter Paralympics.
The FIA and Formula One took measures to stop Russia gaining the spotlight, ruling Individual drivers from either Russia or Belarus can still compete, but only in "their neutral capacity and under the FIA flag".