Russian and Belarusian Tennis Players Are Welcome To Play In The French Open

But don’t speak glowingly about Vladimir Putin.  

Tennis players from Russia and Belarus will be allowed to play in this year’s French Open in Paris, but they better keep their thoughts to themselves if they support Russian President Vladimir Putin in his and Russia’s war on Ukraine. Putin though is not calling the action in Ukraine a war, rather it is a special military operation. Whatever it is called, Russian athletes have been facing bans around the world and not too many sports organizations have plans to be part of any Russia or Belarus-sponsored sports event. The Director of the French Open, Amelie Mauresmo said the players from Belarus and Russia would be allowed to play at the French Open but it comes with a catch. The players could face  sanctions in case they make pro-Putin statements. Over in England, Wimbledon and the Lawn Tennis Association have banned players from the two countries from playing in tournaments in the United Kingdom in 2022. The Wimbledon event starts on June 27th.

The All England Club released a statement that read it would be “unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with The Championships”. Wimbledon officials put out a statement which read, “We share in the universal condemnation of Russia’s illegal actions and have carefully considered the situation in the context of our duties to the players, to our community and to the broader UK public as a British sporting institution.” . Putin’s actions impacted other sports events. The governing body of European soccer matches, UEFA, pulled the Champions League final out of St. Petersburg, Russia. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, UEFA has also told Russian and Ukrainian clubs competing in UEFA-sponsored games that the teams would have to play home matches at neutral venues indefinitely.

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Spain’s Rafael Nadal waves after losing to Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in their semifinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Friday, June 11, 2021 in Paris. Novak Djokovic won 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)