ANKARA – Serbian tennis superstar Novak Djokovic criticized Wimbledon’s decision about Russian players as it previously banned them because of the Russia-Ukraine war.
“I think it (Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players) was a wrong decision. I don’t support that at all. But at these times, it is a sensitive subject and whatever you decide will create a lot of conflict,” the 20-time grand slam champion told reporters on Monday.
“This is one of these kinds of decisions where there will always be someone who will suffer more. It is a lose-lose situation,” Djokovic said.
In April, Wimbledon organizers said Russian and Belarusian athletes will not appear in the 2022 Wimbledon that will start on June 27 and run through July 10.
“It is, therefore, our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022,” the All England Club and the Committee of Management of The Championships previously said amid the Russia-Ukraine war.
So Russian tennis star Daniil Medvedev, world no. 2, will miss the Wimbledon for political reasons.
Medvedev, 26, won the 2021 US Open, his first and only Grand Slam title.
Russian athletes and teams have been suspended by several sporting bodies over the war that began on Feb. 24. Belarus is a Russian ally.
However, Russian and Belarusian players were permitted to go on playing in ATP, WTA and ITF competitions, but they appeared under a neutral flag and with no anthem played.
At least 3,930 civilians have been killed and 4,532 injured since Russia launched its war on Feb. 24, according to UN estimates. The true toll is believed to be significantly higher.
Nearly 6.5 million people have fled to other countries, while over 7.7 million people have been internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency.
Founded in 1877, Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam that is still played on grass, which is the game’s tradition.
Tennis top seed Djokovic, 35, was the 2021 Wimbledon champion in men’s singles.
Djokovic is now playing at this year’s French Open (Roland Garros), and he defeated Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in straight sets to progress to the second round. (Anadolu)
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