Nadal, Djokovic Lay Into Wimbledon For Banning Russian, Belarusian Players From Competing
MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 01: Rafael Nadal of Spain attends his press conference during the Mutua Madrid Open 2022 at La Caja Magica on May 01, 2022, in Madrid, Spain. (Photo By Oscar J. Barroso/Europa Press via Getty Images)
Oscar J. Barroso/Europa Press via Getty Images

Tennis greats Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are preparing for the Madrid Open in Spain, but a decision made in England was the topic at hand on Sunday. 

Both Nadal and Djokovic ripped Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from the upcoming Wimbledon tournament, with Nadal insinuating that players might take action over the next few weeks. 

“I think it’s very unfair [on] my Russian tennis mates, my colleagues … it’s not their fault what’s happening in this moment with the war,” Nadal said on Sunday. “I’m sorry for them. Wimbledon just took their decision … the government didn’t force them to do it.”

“Let’s see what happens in the next weeks, if the players will take some kind of decision in that regard,” Nadal added. 

Djokovic compared the situation to his experience at the 2022 Australian Open when he was banned from playing in the tournament and deported from the country for remaining unvaccinated against COVID-19.

“It’s not the same thing, but going through something similar earlier this year for myself, it’s frustrating knowing that you’re not able to play,” Djokovic said. “I still stand by my position that I don’t support the [Wimbledon] decision. I think it’s just not fair, it’s not right, but it is what it is.”

In late April, the All England Club made the decision to ban players from Russia and Belarus from playing, citing Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.  

“In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with The Championships,” the All England Club said in a statement.

“It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022,” the statement continued.

The decision was met with immediate backlash, including from the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), who both called the ban “discrimination” in their statements. 

On Tuesday, Wimbledon Chairman Ian Hewitt defended the decision, essentially putting the blame on the U.K. government for why players from Russia and Belarus will be denied entry into the tournament. 

“The UK Government has set out directive guidance for sporting bodies and events in the UK with specific aim of limiting Russia’s influence,” Hewitt said, according to Sky Sports.  

“We have considered at length the options available,” Hewitt continued. “These are in effect two options: declining entries or allowing entries but only with specific declarations (against the invasion of Ukraine) from individual players.”

Hewitt said that while considering the option for Russian and Belarusian players to enter Wimbledon after presenting written declarations against the war in Ukraine, the safety of the players and their families was a concern. 

“We believe we have made the most responsible decision possible,” Hewitt said. “We believe [given Government guidance] there is no viable alternative in this truly exceptional and tragic situation.”

Wimbledon is scheduled to be played from June 27 to July 10.

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Nadal, Djokovic Lay Into Wimbledon For Banning Russian, Belarusian Players From Competing