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The US Open will allow tennis players from Russia and Belarus to compete this year despite continued war in ukrainewhich prompted Wimbledon to ban those athletes.
US Tennis Association CEO and CEO Lew Sherr, whose group runs the US Open, said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday that the USTA board decided to allow Russians and Belarusians enter the tournament due to “concern about retaining individual athletes”. responsible for the actions and decisions of their governments.
Sherr said athletes from Russia and Belarus will play at Flushing Meadows under a neutral flag, an arrangement that has been used in several tennis tournaments around the world, including the French Open, which ends on June 5.
The US Open begins on August 29 in New York.
Since Russia began its attacks on Ukraine in February, Russian athletes have been prevented from participating in many sports, including World Cup qualifying playoff soccer. Belarus has helped Russia in the war.
Russia also held international team tennis events, the Billie Jean King Cup and the Davis Cup. He was the current champion in both.
The All England Club, where the Wimbledon main draw begins on June 27, announced in April that it would exclude all Russians and Belarusians from its fields, meaning the man currently ranked No. 1, Russian Daniil Medvedev, is not eligible to participate. . Medvedev is the defending US Open champion.
That ban drew immediate criticism from the WTA and ATP professional tennis tours, along with some prominent players, such as defending champion Novak Djokovic.
In May, the WTA and ATP said they would not award any Wimbledon ranking points this year, an unprecedented rebuke from the All England Club. Some players, including four-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1 Naomi Osaka, said they would consider sitting out Wimbledon.
The ATP has said that all points earned at Wimbledon in 2021 will drop from one player’s record and no new points will be earned there this year. The WTA hasn’t decided exactly how last year’s ranking points from the All England Club will be treated, but new points can’t be added based on how a player performs there this time.
Sherr told the AP that what happened with Wimbledon — both the All England Club’s decision to keep players from certain countries out and the backlash from the tours — had no bearing on the USTA’s decision to let Russian players in. and Belarusians.
“Our discussion was really about the merits and principles around both sides of this argument. This was not a business versus ethical issue,” she said. “There are arguments on both sides. Is he being perceived as supporting heinous acts by a government? And at the same time: would he hold an individual athlete accountable for that?