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Daniil Medvedev faces Wimbledon ban unless he provides two Russia ‘assurances’

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RUSSIAN tennis players could be banned from competing at Wimbledon this summer over the invasion of Ukraine.

World No 1 Daniil Medvedev could be banned from competing in Wimbledon this summer over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It is understood that the Sports Minister is in discussions with the All England Club to bar Russian players from the prestigious Grand Slam tournament unless they provide “assurances” over their alignment with their country and Vladimir Putin’s beliefs.

Tennis is one of the few sports still allowing Russian and Belarusian players to compete but they must do so as neutrals with no mention of their respective countries or flags. The decision was announced by the ATP, WTA, ITF and four Grand Slams on March 1, with both countries’ national teams also banned from the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup where Russia are defending champions.

But it now appears that Russian players could be banned from Wimbledon altogether unless they show distance from their country and Putin’s actions during the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. It is understood that Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston is in talks with the All England Club to create a set of rules that would bar Russian athletes from the tournament if they don’t denounce the war.

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Huddleston told MPs on Tuesday that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport was looking into the issue of allowing neutral Russian athletes to compete in sporting events, and admitted this presented more challenges in individual sports including tennis. Addressing the department, he confirmed: “We are talking to various sports about this and what the response should be there. Absolutely, nobody flying the flag for Russia should be allowed or enabled.”

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Confirming he was seaking with the All England Club about what this meant for Wimbledon, the MP for Mid Worcestershire admitted it was likely that restrictions would need to go further than simply making Russian athletes neutral when competing in England. “I think it needs to go beyond that, I think we need to have some assurance that they are not supporters of Vladimir Putin and we are considering what requirements we may need to get assurances along those lines,” he added.

He also said the government has been in talks with sporting ministers in other nations to reach a “broad global consensus” on how to treat individual Russian athletes including reigning US Open champion Medvedev. One thing that looks to remain in place is keeping athletes neutral without their flag used in any coverage, as Huddleston said: “In short, would I be comfortable with a Russian athlete flying the flag of Russia? No.”

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Outlining a potential requirement for Russian athletes wishing to compete in Wimbledon and other sporting competitions as individuals, the Sports Minister said he wanted outright “assurances” that players like Medvedev were happy to denounce Putin’s actions and the promotion of the Russian flag. He explained: “We are looking at this issue of what we do with individuals and we are thinking about the implications of it, because I don’t think people would accept individuals very clearly flying the Russian flag, in particular if there is any support for Putin and his regime.”

If implemented, the ban would have a huge effect on both the men’s and women’s singles draws at Wimbledon with four Russian players in the top 32 of the ATP rankings, therefore qualifying for a seeded position, and an additional three Russian players currently in the WTA’s top 32.

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