Nick Abbot 10pm - 1am
Wimbledon stripped of ATP ranking points after banning Russian and Belarusian players
20 May 2022, 20:46 | Updated: 20 May 2022, 20:51
Wimbledon has been stripped of its ATP ranking points following the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from this summer's Championships.
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The ATP (the men's tennis tour) and WTA (the women's tennis tour) had both criticised the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from SW19 this year following the invasion of Ukraine.
Wimbledon chairman Ian Hewitt said the UK Government had left them with "no viable alternative", but the ATP have since decided to remove ranking points from the tournament.
"The ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination, is fundamental to our Tour," read an ATP statement.
"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.
"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.
"Discrimination by individual tournaments is simply not viable on a Tour that operates in more than 30 countries."
The ATP said it does not "underestimate the difficult decisions" Wimbledon and the Lawn Tennis Association had faced in responding to guidance but questioned claims there was no other decision to be made.
The statement added: "We note that this was informal guidance, not a mandate, which offered an alternative option that would have left the decision in the hands of individual players competing as neutral athletes through a signed declaration.
"Our internal discussions with affected players in fact led us to conclude this would have been a more agreeable option for the Tour.
"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."
Ranking points will remain at ATP Tour events at Queen's (ATP 500), Eastbourne (ATP 250) and ATP Challenger events in the UK this summer.
"We have taken this decision on the basis that alternative playing opportunities are open to Russian and Belarusian players in those weeks, unlike during Wimbledon, which minimises any impact on the integrity of the rankings," the ATP added.
"Sanctions related to LTA's violation of ATP rules will be assessed separately."
The WTA soon followed suit by announcing that it too was removing ranking points from Wimbledon.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries urged the ATP to consider its decision to remove ranking points from Wimbledon.
She said: "The international sporting community rightly moved quickly and came together to condemn Putin's illegal and barbaric actions in Ukraine.
"Given the importance of sport and cultural bodies in making the Russian Government an international pariah, we stand squarely behind the decision that Wimbledon and the LTA have taken to stand up for what is right.
"We deeply regret today's decision and urge the ATP to consider its stance on ranking points at the Championships.
"It does not send the right message to either Putin or the people of Ukraine."
The International Tennis Federation has also confirmed it will not grant ranking points to Wimbledon for Juniors and Wheelchair 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," it said in a statement.
Wimbledon organisers said they had "deep disappointment" at the removal of ranking points, but added they stood by their decision.
"We appreciate that opinions differ in relation to our decision to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to the championships this year, and we deeply regret the impact of this decision on the individuals affected," they said.
"However, given the position taken by the UK Government to limit Russia's global influence, which removed automatic entry by ranking, and the widespread response of Government, industry, sport and creative institutions, we remain of the view that we have made the only viable decision for Wimbledon as a globally renowned sporting event and British institution, and we stand by the decision we have made.
"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."