Daniil Medvedev may not be allowed to compete at Wimbledon unless he publicly denounces Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Medvedev, who is set to lose No 1 ranking after losing at Indian Wells, had called for peace after Russia’s invasion on Ukraine and removed the Russian flag from his social media accounts.
But UK sports minister Nigel Huddleston claimed he isn’t comfortable with a Russian athlete competing at Wimbledon and flying the Russian flag if they were to win.
— Daniil Medvedev (@DaniilMedwed) February 27, 2022
This is despite all Russian and Belarusian athletes playing under neutral flags on the WTA and ATP Tour.
“Many countries have agreed that they will not allow representatives from Russia to compete. There are also visa issues as well,” Huddleston told a select committee in parliament.
“When it comes to individuals, that is more complex. Absolutely nobody flying the flag for Russia should be allowed or enabled.”
Huddleston went on to claim that assurances might have to be made before individual athletes could compete.
“We need some potential assurance that they are not supporters of Putin and we are considering what requirements we may need to try and get some assurances along those lines,” he added.
Huddleston said he was discussing the issue with Wimbledon organisers, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC).
Ban on Russians
Many sporting bodies have banned Russian teams and athletes from competing. There are no athletes from Russia or Belarus allowed to compete at the Beijing Winter Paralympics.
Meanwhile, tennis’s governing bodies decided to suspend Russian and Belarusian tennis federations and will not allow them to compete in team events.
But individual Russian players are allowed to compete on the tour.
“It’s always tough to talk on this subject because I want to play tennis, [to] play in different countries,” the 26-year-old Medvedev had said earlier this month.
“I want to promote my sport. I want to promote what I’m doing in my country for sure, and right now the situation is that that is the only way I can play (without representing Russia).”
Kostyuk slams Russian players
Earlier this week, Ukranian player Marta Kostyuk had launched a stinging attack on tennis’ governing bodies and Russian players on tour.
“What is happening on the circuit is very disappointing,” the 19-year-old from Kiev said.
“No Russian tennis player came to see me, no one said he doesn’t support this cause and no one apologized to me or any other Ukrainian player for what their country is doing.
“It’s very shocking because we all know what’s going on. I don’t understand why the Russians behave like this.
“I am outraged to come to the club and see them there, their only problem right now is not being able to make money transfers and the scandalous thing is that they talk about it.
“It is unacceptable and I totally disagree that they should be allowed to continue competing.
Kostyuk has also been unimpressed by the response of individual players — such as Russia’s men’s world number one Daniil Medvedev — who deplore war but don’t specifically condemn the invasion.
“You cannot be neutral in this. These ‘No war’ statements they hurt me because they have no substance.”