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Wimbledon: Russian and Belarusian players back at All England Club a year after ban | UK News

Andrey Rublev is competing at Wimbledon when the Russian and Belarusian players are allowed to return – as long as they don’t openly support the fight and don’t accept sponsorship from their countries.

Via Rob Harris, Sports Correspondent @RobHarris

Monday, July 3, 2023 21:58, UK

Returning after being expelled, Andrey Rublev quickly fell in love with Wimbledon.

Selfie enthusiasts surrounded the Russian, who responded by responding to every request for a photo within minutes, shortly after returning to the All England Club.

Even his outspoken opposition to the war in Ukraine was not enough for him to be allowed to play here last year.

A comprehensive ban has been imposed amid fears Vladimir Putin will use any sporting success for propaganda purposes.

But the hardline stance fell apart as British tennis authorities faced fines from world tournaments and Wimbledon rivals were denied ranking points.

So Rublev and his countrymen could return – along with those from Belarus, Russia’s war ally – as long as Putin’s invasion was not backed by them and they did not receive funding. from your country.

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And Rublev is here as neutral against 16 other Russian and Belarusian players in singles matches – a decision considered “immoral” by Ukraine.

All England Club chief executive Sally Bolton told Sky News: “It’s been an incredibly difficult decision this year, very similar to last year. We’ve weighed a lot of factors and especially the impact. its to those affected.”

Especially the Ukrainians, who have seen fellow athletes killed and their facilities hit by Russian missiles.

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“While we have made the decision to admit those athletes this year, it does not change our view of the war in Ukraine,” Ms Bolton said.

“We completely condemn the illegal invasion of Russia. And so our focus now is just on allowing those athletes to compete.”

Rublev was in a hurry to get back, beating Australia’s Max Purcell in consecutive sets as the first Russian into the second round. Results are marked on the transcript without showing nationality.

Rublev wrote this message shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022

Just winning is enough after being eliminated last year.

“If we really want to help or do something better for tennis and for people, I think obviously there are better options,” he said of Wimbledon 2022.

“Because in the end, there’s no difference. They’re just making it worse for themselves. For sure everyone has a choice. Now we’re here and I’m really happy to come back and compete. fight.”

And there was no sign of hostility from the typical polite Wimbledon crowd.

Victoria Azarenka ‘feels great’ to be back. Photo: AP

“It’s great,” said Belarusian tennis player Victoria Azarenka after beating China’s Yuan Yue.

“Today to hear people say, ‘Let’s go, Vika’ and cheer me on is also why I play, to play in front of a crowd, to put on a good performance. It feels great.”

Just what the All England Club hoped for.

Ms. Bolton said: “Wimbledon has a reputation for a very respectful crowd.

“And we don’t anticipate that there will be any difference this year.”


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