Italian Open organizers await decision on eligibility of Russian and Belarusian players

Russian player Daniil Medvedev, No. 2 in the men’s world ranking, could be banned from the Italian OpenGetty Images

Italian Open organizers are waiting to hear if players from Russia and Belarus are ‘allowed to compete’ after Wimbledon’s decision to ban them prompted the Italian government to ‘make a sudden intervention’, according to Stuart Fraser of the LONDON TIMES. After an initial report in the Corriere della Sera newspaper, sources said Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi “is considering taking legal action to ensure that Russians and Belarusians cannot play while the invasion continues.” of Ukraine continues”. This could take the form of a “travel ban or a new order prohibiting individuals from participating in professional sporting events on Italian soil”. ATP and WTA tour officials are preparing to discuss “what action they will take in response to the decision” by Wimbledon and the Lawn Tennis Association. Board and player meetings ‘will take place in Madrid throughout this week’. There are also suggestions that the French Open “could suddenly come under political pressure now that the presidential election is over” (LONDON TIMES, 4/25).

DISUNITY AND DISAPPOINTMENT: WTA CEO Steve Simon said Wimbledon’s announcement was “extremely disappointing”. Appearing on ‘The Tennis Podcast’ last Thursday, Simon said that ‘the one thing this sport has always agreed…and united on was that coming into our events’ in tennis has ‘always been based on on merit and without discrimination”. He added: “We have never, ever refused an athlete to participate in one of our events because of their background or the decisions their governments may have made, however reprehensible they may have been.” Simon said “the problems we see in Ukraine are reprehensible” but in “honesty, Russian and Belarusian athletes who have nothing to do with this, which everyone agrees, have spoken out against this”. They should not be penalized because of the actions of their government. We stand strong behind that. I won’t back down from that. I think it’s a fundamental principle.” Simon: “We will assess what our next steps are…but I couldn’t be more unhappy with the decision. … You will see strong reactions coming from us, but again, what they are and how they will play out remains to be determined” (“The Tennis Podcast”, 4/21).

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