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All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt explains Wimbledon’s banning of Russian, Belarusian players as ‘beyond the interests of tennis alone’

All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt was “very disappointed” by the ATP and WTA’s decision to strip Wimbledon of ranking points, but added that the Championships were left with “no other viable” alternative than players from Russia and Ban Belarus from participating in it year.

Hewitt also said the decision was also motivated by a desire to prevent the championships from being used to further Russia’s political agenda.

Wimbledon organizers decided back in April to ban players from Russia and Belarus in response to the invasion of Ukraine. The ATP and WTA reacted to the All England Club’s decision by stripping Wimbledon of all ranking points, saying the exclusion of players had “undermined” the integrity of the tour.

But Hewitt, speaking to ESPN on Sunday, said the call to ban players from Russia and Belarus was a decision “beyond the interests of tennis” and was “influenced by the guidelines the government is giving us regarding the matter has given .”

Hewitt said it would have been “wrong” to “defy government guidelines”, leaving Wimbledon with two options: “One was a way to consider personal statements from players and quite frankly we didn’t think that was the case the right approach in a tournament of our kind. We were not willing to compromise the safety of the players and we believe that going that route would have had an impact on the safety of the players or their families, which really left no other viable alternative.” , Hewitt told ESPN.

“But it was also very important to us that, given the profile we have, Wimbledon is not used in any way by the propaganda machine that we know the Russian government is using in relation to their own people and their position in the world presented and that would be, we just wouldn’t allow Wimbledon achievements or participation in Wimbledon to be misused in that way.

“As a result of the combination of reasons, we were left with no other viable alternative than to decline participation. We deeply regret the impact on the individual players affected, but we also deeply regret the tragic impact on so many innocent people the situation in Ukraine has caused.”

The All England Club’s decision meant men’s No. 1 Daniil Medvedev and No. 8 Andrey Rublev would be banned from playing, as would women’s No. 6 Aryna Sabalenka and No. 13 Daria Kasatkina.

“Regarding the ATP and WTA’s decision to remove ranking points, yes we are very disappointed by that. We believe this is a disproportionate approach and frankly we believe it is in the interests of a large majority of players more harms.” and we regret this decision by the ATP and the WTA.

“We respect that opinions differ but we would have hoped that in the interests of the players there would have been another way to deal with this, but as far as our decision is concerned, we definitely stand by our decision. I would say our focus now is to move forward with the championships and prove that we really are a championship that represents the pinnacle of the sport.”

https://www.espn.com/tennis/story/_/id/34155443/all-england-club-chairman-ian-hewitt-explains-wimbledon-banning-russian-belarusian-players-interests-tennis-alone All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt explains Wimbledon’s banning of Russian, Belarusian players as ‘beyond the interests of tennis alone’

Emma Bowman

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