This week the tennis world has been utterly rocked by the joint Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) announcement that all Russian and Belarusian players would be banned from the 2022 event due to the two nations’ involvement in the horrifying invasion of Ukraine.
Essentially, it means that the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Aryna Sabalenka, Victoria Azarenka, Karen Khachanov, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Aslan Karatsev will have no place at this year’s edition of tennis most revered Grand Slam.
“After careful consideration the LTA believes that tennis must join many other areas of sport and public life in sending a clear signal to the Russian and Belarusian states that their actions in Ukraine are the subject of international condemnation,” the statement read.
“The continuing participation of Russian and Belarusian nationals at events risks providing a boost to these regimes when there is an unprecedented international effort to isolate them and sanction their actions.
“The LTA also recognises that individual Russian and Belarusian players may not agree with the actions of their Governments and this is a situation beyond their control.”
It is a drastic measure, and the arguments made for the decision are completely warranted, but it doesn’t make it correct.
Many of the aforementioned players do not even reside in Russia or Belarus, with only Rublev and Karatsev still calling the largest nation in the world their place of residence.
But besides that, why are these PEOPLE being punished for the actions of a ruthless politician?
They hold no power or influence on the outcome of the war, and that’s the truth.
What is even worse is that the LTA’s by-laws clearly state that discrimination of any kind is against the organisation’s mantra.
“Value diversity, and not unlawfully discriminate against anyone, or treat anyone less favourably or unfavourably, by reason of age, disability, gender
reassignment, marriage, civil partnership, pregnancy, maternity, race (including colour, nationality, or ethnic or national origins), religion, belief (including religious, philosophical or lack of
belief), sex or sexual orientation.” The laws state.
Last time I checked, banning people because of where they were born or what nationality they are is the opposite of valuing diversity, as well as being clear and utter discrimination.
In a team situation it is understandable, not allowing Russia or Belarus to compete at the Davis Cup or Billie Jean King Cup in tennis circles, as well the World Cup or European Champions League in some other examples, but tennis players are individuals.
The ATP and WTA have already removed the flags from all Russian and Belarusian players, with none of them representing their home nation, but still being allowed to compete.
Imagine living over here in Australia and losing your job because you are from Russia or Belarus, pretty brutal right?
Well this is what it is like.
These players will lose income, ranking points and be severely hindered career-wise due to something that their politicians are doing, and that many have voiced concerns over.
Andrey Rublev wrote ‘no war please’ on a camera lens following a victory in Dubai and there have been numerous other statements made in tennis circles about the abhorrent events taking place in Ukraine.
These tennis players have nothing to do with the war, and while a stance must be made against Russia, stripping these people of the chance to hoist two of tennis’ most famous trophies is not the way to go about making this stance.
Sport is supposed bring people together, but this decision is tearing a tennis community apart.
Solutions could be to take all events away from Russia and Belarus, ensure that the countries remain outside international competitions and not investing in any tennis programs within their borders.
The war must stop, but the players must play.
Otherwise the LTA will look like the biggest hypocrite on the planet.