Novak Djokovic calls Wimbledon ban for Russian and Belarusian players ‘crazy’

Wimbledon organizers announced on Wednesday that Russian and Belarusian players will not be allowed to compete in this year’s edition following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“I will always condemn war and will never support being a child in war,” the world number one told reporters at the Serbia Open.

Djokovic was just 11 years old when he was hit by air strikes on the Serbian capital, which marked the beginning of what would be a 78-day campaign by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to try to end the atrocities committed by then-Yugoslavia. – President Slobodan Milosevic’s forces against the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

“I know how emotionally traumatic it leaves. In Serbia, we all know what happened in 1999. In the Balkans, we have seen many wars in recent history,” he told reporters.

“However, I can’t support Wimbledon’s decision, I think it’s crazy. When politics interferes in the sport, the result is not good.”

Wimbledon announced on Wednesday and defended its decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s tournament.

“Given the importance of tournaments in the UK and around the world, it is our responsibility to play our part in the broad efforts of government, industry, sporting and creative institutions to reduce Russia’s global influence through the strongest possible means,” the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) said at statment.

“In conditions of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian system to derive any benefits from the participation of Russian or Belarusian players in tournaments.

“Therefore, we intend, with great regret, to refuse the participation of the players of Russia and Belarus in the 2022 tournament,” she added.

The Kremlin said earlier on Wednesday that a ban on Russian players from participating in Wimbledon as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was “unacceptable”.

Daniil Medvedev sits between the groups during his men's singles second round match against Carlos Alcaraz during day four of Wimbledon 2021.
Belarus & # 39;  Arina Sabalenka returns to Romania's Monica Niculescu during her women's singles first round match at Wimbledon 2021.

The ban on Russian players will prevent many highly ranked players from competing on popular grass courts.

Four Russian men, including world number two and US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, are currently ranked in the top 30 players on the ATP Tour.

Russia has five women in the top 40 WTA tour rankings.

Ranked fourth in the world, Belarusian Arina Sabalenka reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon last year, while compatriot Victoria Azarenka, the former world number one, is currently 18th.

The AELTC decision is the first time that players from Russia and Belarus have been banned from competing in an elite tennis event.

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