Wimbledon Asks Russian Tennis Star to Denounce Putin
Russian tennis player Daniil Medvedev, the reigning US Open champion, could be banned from participating in Wimbledon this summer unless he provides officials with certain “assurances” regarding his opinion of President Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine.
This unprecedented policy is backed by British MP and Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston, who is in talks with the All England Club to create a set of qualifiers for Russian players ahead of Wimbledon. Already, Russian athletes have been asked to play as “neutrals” with no reference to nation or flag on their uniforms.
“I think it needs to go beyond that,” said Huddleston. “I think we need to have some assurances that they are not supporters of Vladimir Putin and we are considering what requirements we may need to get assurances along those lines.”
Ukrainian tennis player Marta Kostyuk has called on the All England Club to implement a full ban against Russia athletes like Formula 1 and other sports have done. “You don’t have to be involved in politics to behave like a human being,” argues Kostyuk. “It hurts me every time I arrive at the stadium and see all these Russian players.”
Medvedev has promised to follow all rules required of him to participate in Wimbledon. “Right now, the rule is that we can [play] under a neutral flag. I want to play my favorite sport…I’m going to be there for the fans, play for the people, for myself,” he said.
Medvedev performed well at the Indian Wells Masters last week, defeating Tomas Machac in straight sets 6-3 6-2, and said he was touched to receive a warm welcome from fans at the event.
Medvedev fears the impact Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will have on children and posted this inspiring message to his Instagram account in late February:
“Today I want to speak on behalf of every kid in the world,” wrote Medvedev on Instagram. “They all have dreams, their life is just starting, so many nice experiences to come: first friends, first great emotions. Everything they feel and see is for the first time in their lives…That’s why I want to ask for peace in the world, for peace between countries. Kids are born with inner trust in the world, they believe so much in everything: in people, in love, in safety and justice, in their chances in life. Let’s be together and show them that it’s true, cause every kid shouldn’t stop dreaming.”
Author’s Note: What Russia is doing is unacceptable, but so is the response from the All England Club. They should either ban Russian players or not, but the decision to blackmail Medvedev into denouncing his country is repulsive.
Serena Williams was never asked to condemn President Clinton for bombing Syria, President Bush for the invasion of Afghanistan, or Obama for destroying Libya/Yemen.