After participating in a recent discussion about the 2023 Wimbledon Championships, Andrey Rublev has criticized the British government. The LTA and event organizers imposed sanctions, preventing the world No. 8 from competing at the Grand Slam this year. Due to the conflict in Ukraine, athletes from Russia and Belarus.
The government’s guidance, which indicated worry that Russian use its players as propaganda in those events, informed the decision-making process. The ATP and WTA disallowed ranking points from the competition for the first match ever in protest over the decision.
Both organizations imposed hefty fines on the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), although it is understood that they are contesting those sanctions. The LTA may also lose its ATP membership if they implement such a restriction in 2023 for the second consecutive year, according to a recent article.
Rublev said it is still uncertain whether Wimbledon and the LTA would change their stance on the matter. The 25-year-old stated that he was one of those who brought the matter forward in an interview with Clay Magazine. during a conference including ATP and directors of main tournaments, for Russian players to be permitted to compete once more.
We want to show that tennis can be bigger than politics” – Andy Rublev
“We had a meeting with the Grand Slams and the ATP. It’s really good that ATP is more open to helping everyone,”
“We were very honest, giving a lot of options, many ways to help. Really help. Because, if they ban us for the second year, we will see no changes, and will be worst for tennis. Only we make more fire in the tennis. And it doesn’t help the situation. We are offering help in any direction that is possible. We want to show that tennis can be bigger than politics.”
The attitude of the British government seems to be the main problem for tennis. Which still seems to be concerned about the possibility of athletes using Russian propaganda on their own soil. After the ATP penalized the LTA $1M earlier this month, Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan called tennis’ governing bodies “outcasts” in the struggle against Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“Over the past year, the vast majority of the international sporting community have stood shoulder to shoulder in condemning Putin’s provoked and barbaric actions in Ukraine,”
Donelan said in a statement.
“The UK has taken a world-leading role to build this international response. We are clear that sport cannot be used to legitimize this deadly invasion, and that athletes representing the Russian and Belarusian states should be banned from competing in other countries.“
“Despite widespread condemnation, the international tennis tours are determined to be outcasts in this, with investment in the growth of our domestic game hampered as a result (of the fine).”
Rublev, one of the few prominent Russian athletes who have openly expressed opposition to the war, has attacked the government’s approach, claiming that it eliminates the possibility of a gesture of peace. The tennis pro continues by saying that in his opinion, the government exploits sport to sway politics.
“They really don’t want to help. The government of England probably proved that for them is all about politics. They are showing that politics is more important than peace,”
“We (the tennis players) can show a strong message, at least for one time, that sport can be separated from political issues. Could be a good start. I know that’s difficult because they will always use sport to manipulate politics.”
Rublev thinks that playing tennis is the finest venue for expressing his personal opinions on the conflict. He scrawled “no war please” on a camera lens shortly after the Russians invaded on February 24 of this year.
“The easiest way how I can make my statement, to show what I’m standing for, is the tennis court. It’s the only platform I can see to show how important is to be kind, to be humble, and to have the right education for a better generation, for a better world. I try to use this platform in a good way. Also not to show that I might try to be acting, not natural, you know? Because if you start to do this too much it will also be not really that natural. I just do it at the right moment.”
“The most important thing is that normal people cannot suffer, they cannot pay for their leaders’ mistakes. Normal people have to enjoy life, not go through this horrible situation.”
Currently, Russians and Belarusians can only participate in ATP, WTA, and ITF competitions as neutral athletes. The Davis Cup, however, prohibits participation by those nations in team competitions. When Wimbledon will make a determination about the participation of players from two nations in the 2023 competition is uncertain.
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