Wimbledon Lifts Ban on Russian Players Days After WSJ Journalist Arrested

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In a dramatic about face from the 2022 tournament, Wimbledon has announced they’ll allow Russian players to compete.

Although it’s not quite as rosy as a return to normal for the Russians.

The All England Club will permit them to compete at Wimbledon, but only if they adhere to certain conditions before the start of play.

According to the Associated Press, Russians and Belarusians must sign a “declaration of neutrality.” Additionally, they must agree to not express support for the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Loyalty oaths to play tennis, that’s where we’re at in 2023 apparently.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision, not taken lightly or without a great deal of consideration for those who will be impacted,” Ian Hewitt, All England Club chairman, said in a statement.

Wimbledon unexpectedly did not cave to pressure to ban players for the crime of being unvaccinated.

Novak Djokovic was allowed to play in 2021 and 2022, although he previously spoke out against the tournament banning Russian athletes.

Djokovic Wimbledon
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 10: Novak Djokovic of Serbia with the trophy after victory in the Mens Singles Final against Nick Kyrgios of Australia (not pictured) at The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club at Wimbledon on July 10, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Simon Bruty/Anychance/Getty Images)

Wimbledon Timing Not Ideal

The Ukrainian foreign minister came out against the decision, describing it as “immoral.”

Despite those assertions, there’s no reason to punish individual tennis players for something they had no part in.

Wimbledon will now feature several players of note. Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus will be allowed to compete, as well as Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev.

That said, the timing of the decision is a bit questionable, as reports broke recently that a Wall Street Journal reporter had been arrested in Russia.

Politicians have suggested that the prisoner exchange Biden agreed to has emboldened Putin to make such decisions. It’s also lead to increasing criticism, which certainly can’t make Wimbledon happy.

For their part, the US Open allowed Russian players to compete in 2022, apparently viewing being unvaccinated as a far greater offense.

Written by Ian Miller

Ian Miller is a former award watching high school actor, author, and long suffering Dodgers fan. He spends most of his time golfing, traveling, reading about World War I history, and trying to get the remote back from his dog. Follow him on Twitter @ianmSC

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