When Wimbledon gets underway in June, there will be no Russian or Belarusian players present. The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), which is the governing body of Wimbledon, announced on Wednesday that tennis players from both countries will not be permitted to compete at Wimbledon following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"We recognise that this is hard on the individuals affected, and it is with sadness that they will suffer for the actions of the leaders of the Russian regime," Ian Hewitt, chairman of the AELTC said in a statement, according to Reuters. "... Given the high profile environment of The Championships the importance of not allowing sport to be used to promote the Russian regime and our broader concerns for public and player (including family) safety, we do not believe it is viable to proceed on any other basis."
AELTC added that it hopes the decision will "limit Russia's global influence through the strongest means possible."
The ruling means that some of the top tennis players in the world, including No. 2 Daniil Medvedev on the men's side, won't be unable to compete in the Grand Slam. Players from Belarus that will now be absent include No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka and No. 18 Victoria Azarenka on the women's side.
There had been previous reports that Wimbledon was going to make players from Russia and Belarus "denounce" Vladimir Putin in order to play in the tournament, but that was passed over in favor of the ban.
Shamil Tarpischev, Russian Tennis Federation president, told Russia's Sport Express newspaper that he could not do anything about the ban.
"I think this decision is wrong but there is nothing we can change," Tarpischev said, according to Reuters. "The [Russian] Tennis Federation has already done everything it could. I don't want to talk about this, but I will say that this decision goes against the athletes. ... We are working on the situation, that's all I can say."
Wimbledon is far from the first event to have protocols in place regarding athletes from Russia. The French Open will allow players from Russia and Belarus to participate, but have made the change to only allow them to compete as neutral athletes.