Russian and Belarusian tennis players will be allowed to compete in the US Open

The US Open will allow tennis players from Russia and Belarus to compete this year despite the ongoing war in Ukraine, which prompted Wimbledon to ban these athletes.

US Tennis Association CEO and CEO Lou Cher, whose group runs the US Open, said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday that the US Tennis Association’s board of directors decided to allow Russians and Belarusians into the tournament due to “concern about the detention of individual athletes responsible for actions and decisions of their governments.

Scheer said athletes from Russia and Belarus will play at Flushing Meadows under a neutral flag – an arrangement that has been used in various tennis tournaments around the world, including the French Open, which ended on June 5.

The US Open begins on August 29 in New York.

Since Russia began its attacks on Ukraine in February, Russian athletes have been banned from participating in several sports, including World Cup qualifiers. Belarus helped Russia in the war.

Russia was also held among two international tennis events in which the national team was champion: the Billie Jean King Cup and the Davis Cup.

The All England Club, where the main draw for Wimbledon begins on June 27, announced in April that it would ban all Russians and Belarusians from entering its stadiums – meaning that Daniil Medvedev, currently the men’s number one, is ineligible to participate. Medvedev is the defending champion at the US Open.

The Wimbledon ban drew immediate criticism from the WTA and the ATP, along with some notable players, such as defending champion Novak Djokovic.

In May, the WTA and ATP said they would not award any Wimbledon rating points this year, an unprecedented rebuke to the All England Club. Some players, including the four-times main champion and former number one Naomi Osaka, have said they would consider staying out of Wimbledon.

The ATP said all points earned at Wimbledon in 2021 will fall below the player’s record and no new points will be earned there this year. The WTA has not decided exactly how last year’s ranking points from the All England Club will be handled, but new points cannot be added based on how a player performed there this time around.

Scheer told the AP that what happened with Wimbledon – both the All England Club’s move to turn away players from certain countries and the tour’s reaction – played no role in the USTA’s selection to let Russian and Belarusian players in.

“Our discussion was really about the merits and principles about both sides of this argument. This was not a business issue versus an ethical issue,” he said. “There are arguments on both sides. Are you seen as supporting atrocities by the government? And at the same time: Are you going to hold an individual athlete to account for it?”

Scherr said the WTA and WTA professional tours organized a series of conversations with athletes from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and various tennis governing bodies, and that the heads of both tours addressed the WTA board prior to his decision.

The USTA plans to provide additional financial assistance to humanitarian efforts in Ukraine and will use the US Open as a platform to raise awareness about the war.

“This is a terrible situation and we, along with every other tennis player, strongly condemn what is an unjustified and unjust invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and everything is framed in this context,” Scheer said. “Although some of these decisions are difficult, none of them rise to the level of the difficulties Ukraine is now going through, the tragedies and atrocities.”

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