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Top Wimbledon official says it was ‘incredibly difficult’ to clear Russia, Belarus

Sally Bolton noted that the organizers paid special attention to how such a decision would affect the athletes

LONDON, July 4. /TASS/. The decision to allow players from Russia and Belarus to participate in this year’s Wimbledon, which kicked off on Monday in London, was "incredibly difficult," Sky News quoted All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) CEO Sally Bolton as saying.

In 2022, Wimbledon organizers, the AELTC and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), announced a decision to bar Russian and Belarusian players from participating in the 2022 edition of the tournament, citing Russia’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine as the reason for the ban.

"It was an incredibly difficult decision this year, very similar to last year," Bolton told Sky News. "We took lots of factors into consideration and particularly the impact it would have on those affected."

This year, Wimbledon organizers - the AELTC and the LTA - announced a decision to allow Russian and Belarusian players to participate in the tournament as neutrals and under several conditions.

Specifically, athletes from the two countries should not be "actively supporting" Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, must compete under a neutral status and must not be financed by the governments of Russia or Belarus, or by state-run companies from either country.

Following the ban of Russian and Belarusian players from Wimbledon last year, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced decisions to strip Wimbledon of ranking points due to its move to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing at the 2022 Grand Slam tournament in London, as it violated the fundamental principles stipulating that players of any nationality can enter tournaments based on their merits and without any type of discrimination. President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach also criticized at that time Wimbledon organizers’ decision to bar players from Russia and Belarus.

The Wimbledon tournament, the most prestigious out of the four Grand Slam tournaments, has been held annually in London since 1877. It took place last year between June 27 and July 10. This year’s Wimbledon runs between July 3 and 16.

Russians at 2023 Wimbledon

Russia is represented in men’s singles by Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Aslan Karatsev. Russia’s Karen Khachanov announced earlier that he would skip this year’s tournament because of a bad back.

The women’s draw includes six Russians: Daria Kasatkina, Veronika Kudermetova, Lyudmila Samsonova, Yekaterina Aleksandrova, Anastasia Potapova and Mirra Andreeva.