The U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) announced Tuesday that all Russian and Belarusian players will be permitted to play in the 2022 US Open Aug. 29-Sept. 11 in New York.
The decision comes amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has impacted the tennis landscape. The All-England Lawn Tennis Club (AETLC) has banned players from both countries in competing in this year’s Wimbledon Championships, set for June 27-July 10. The AETLC’s ruling has drawn criticism from current men’s tennis star Novak Djokovic and women’s tennis legend Billie Jean King, who both said they disagreed with the decision.
Mike McNulty, USTA chairman of the board and president, issued the following statement:
“Tennis has done much through Tennis Plays for Peace for humanitarian support of Ukraine,” McNulty said. “Unfortunately, the need for help only continues to grow. The USTA will be responding very soon with a broad set of initiatives that will include significant financial assistance and other programs to further support humanitarian relief and the people of Ukraine.”
The ruling means that the No. 1 men’s singles player in the world and reigning US Open champion, Daniil Medvedev, will have the opportunity to defend his crown. Medvedev defeated Djokovic in last year’s final, 6–4, 6–4, 6–4, to win his first and only Grand Slam.
USTA CEO and executive director Lew Sherr told the Associated Press Tuesday that the board made the decision due to “concern about holding the individual athletes accountable for the actions and decisions of their governments.”
“Our discussion was really on the merits and really the principles around both sides of this argument. This was not a commercial versus an ethical question,” Sherr said. “There are arguments on both sides. Are you being perceived as supporting atrocious acts by a government? And at the same time: Would you hold an individual athlete accountable for that?”
The USTA emphasized they will be offering additional financial assistance for humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.
“This is a horrific situation and we, along with everyone else in tennis, absolutely condemn what is an unprovoked and unjust invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and everything is framed in that context,” Sherr said. “As difficult as some of these decisions may be, none of it amounts to the difficulties being experienced in Ukraine right now, and the tragedies and atrocities.”
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