The US Open will allow Russian and Belarusian tennis players to compete

The US Open will not follow Wimbledon by banning Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s tennis tournament.

The US Tennis Association, which owns and operates the US Open, announced the decision on Tuesday after its board of directors met recently. This move makes Wimbledon the only Grand Slam tournament that bans Russians and Belarusians in the aftermath Invasion of Ukraine.

“These horrific atrocities have weighed on all of us,” said Le Cher, the new chief executive of the USTA, referring to the war in Ukraine. “But I think at the end of the day we have chosen not to hold individual athletes responsible for the decisions of their governments.”

The Wimbledon ban, made in part in response to pressure from the British government to take action, has had strong support from the British public, as shown in opinion polls. But the ban was rejected by the men’s and women’s tennis tours, which responded by stripping Wimbledon of ranking points this year despite significant controversy and opposition among the players.

Scheer said US Tennis Association officials have had discussions in recent weeks with the leaders of Wimbledon and the other two Grand Slam tournaments, the French Open and the Australian Open. “It was very clear that each of us was dealing with a unique set of circumstances,” he said. “Wimbledon, in their case, there was government directive involved as well, and we came out and strongly supported their decision given their circumstances. Our circumstances are different, and in our case, we felt it was the right decision for us.”

The Russian and Belarusian players will compete in the US Open, which begins on August 29, under a neutral flag, just as they were competing on the tour and at the recently concluded French Open.

Daniel Medvedev The Russian national team won the men’s singles title at the US Open last year and returned to the top spot in the ATP singles rankings this week. Victoria Azarenka of Belarus has reached the US Open women’s singles final three times. Arina Sabalenkaanother Belarusian women’s star, reached the semi-finals of the US Open last year.

Everyone will miss Wimbledon, which begins on June 27, and Russian and Belarusian players have also been banned from this month’s preliminary events in Britain at Queen’s Club, Eastbourne and elsewhere. The USTA ultimately chose to go in a different direction, although Scheer reiterated on Tuesday that he considers the Tours decision to strip points from Wimbledon “disproportionate”.

Currently, no other events outside Britain have followed Wimbledon’s lead, although tennis authorities moved quickly after the invasion of Ukraine to prevent Russian and Belarusian teams from competing in team events such as the Davis Cup and the Billie Jean King Cup.

“It’s not an easy situation,” Cher said. “It’s a horrible situation for those in Ukraine, an unjustified, unfair and very appalling invasion, so anything we’re talking about pales in terms of what’s going on there.”

Scheer said the USTA will use the US Open to help raise money for relief efforts in Ukraine and “to show our support for the Ukrainian people.”

Scheer said the NFL had not received any pressure or direction from the US government regarding the participation of Russian and Belarusian players.

Russian players like Medvedev have already been in the United States since the international restrictions were imposed, playing in March at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, and at the Miami Open. Russian stars in other sports, such as Alexander Ovechkin of the NHL’s Washington Capitals, continued to compete for North American clubs.

“The discussion on the board was about principles and what we felt was right for us rather than a function of what the NHL might do; really a key issue was your commission of atrocities and a terrible situation on the one hand, and on the other hand, are we willing to hold these individuals accountable for those,” Scheer said. decisions?”

Although Medvedev should be able, if healthy, to defend his title in New York, the player he defeated in last year’s final, Novak Djokovic, is still unable to enter the United States because he is a vulnerable foreigner. That policy, which has prevented Djokovic from competing in Indian Wells or Miami this year, could change before the US Open begins, but Scheer made clear on Tuesday that the USTA would not seek an exemption for foreign players who are not immune to compete in New York.

“We will follow government and CDC guidance,” Scheer said, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.