Wimbledon chiefs mulling Medvedev ban over Putin fears – report
World number two Daniil Medvedev is facing the prospect of missing out on one of the summer's most prestigious events amid reports in the UK which suggests that Wimbledon chiefs are mulling over a proposal to ban him and other players from Russia and Belarus from competing.
The All-England Club, the group under whose banner Wimbledon takes place each year, operates as a private member's club and can therefore restrict access to anyone they please without the fear of legal recourse.
The ATP and WTA have so far permitted players from Russia and Belarus to play at events in the past month, but under the strict provision that they are not to compete under their nation's flag or national anthem.
But according to The Telegraph, quoting unnamed sources within the All-England Club, a full ban is being considered against Medvedev and others – amid the understanding that banned players cannot appeal the decision under the terms of being denied an opportunity to earn money and make a living in their chosen field.
“Private member clubs have more freedom as to who to allow in or not, so they wouldn’t be subject to the same discrimination laws as the tours,” the source said.
“If you are running the main tennis tour, you have the freedom to ban players – if they have been found guilty of match-fixing or doping, for instance – but you have to be able to show that this course of action is reasonable.
“In this instance, if the tours took strong action, Russians players could argue that they are being prevented from making a living through no fault of their own. That is not so much of an issue for Wimbledon, however.”
There are reportedly concerns that a victory for Medvedev would somehow “boost Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime,” even though the player himself has not commented specifically on the situation in Ukraine apart from issuing calls for peace.
The deadline for applications to Wimbledon comes midway through May, meaning that there will likely be further internal deliberation on the matter before a decision is taken.
UK Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston has previously expressed that Medvedev and other Russian and Belarusian players could be banned unless they can prove to British tennis chiefs that they do not support Putin.
It has even been suggested that players such as Medvedev and Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka could be required to sign what amounts to an 'anti-Putin form' in order to play.
Huddleston has also said that the government has held talks with Wimbledon representatives about the status of Russian and Belarusian players ahead of the event, which is set to begin on June 27.
“We wish to get assurance in a written declaration that they are not receiving money from Putin, Russia or Belarus [and] that they will not be making supportive comments of Putin, Russia or Belarus,” Huddleston said last week.
Medvedev announced this past weekend that he was to undergo surgery for a lingering hernia issue, which is set to rule him out of action for up to two months.