Letting Russian and Belarusian tennis stars face off will signal Western resolve is collapsing, Ukrainian foreign minister says
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba has expressed outrage over the decision to allow Russian and Belarusian tennis stars to return to Wimbledon this year, saying kyiv feels “deceived” by moving.
In an op-ed published Tuesday in the British tabloid Daily Express, Kuleba accused British tennis officials of ” lack of courage “.
“Last year, Wimbledon made the difficult but noble decision to ban competitors from Russia and Belarus.”[The] the organizers deserve credit for doing the right thing. What has changed since? Not a lot,” supported the minister.
Kuleba claimed that Russia “will be encouraged” by the decision to lift the ban, and that it gives the impression that Western resolve is crumbling in the conflict with Moscow. Meanwhile, Ukraine “will feel cheated” according to the official.
“Any sign of a softening of the West’s stance will be interpreted as [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s victory. We should not give Putin victories,” Kuleba insisted. He urged the British government to “close the door” to Russian and Belarusian players “in the manner of a gentleman” by refusing to issue visas.
Kuleba’s outrage comes after Wimbledon organizer All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) announced last month it was ending its suspension for Russian and Belarusian players, provided they compete as “neutrals”, do not express their support for the Russian military campaign in Ukraine. , and do not receive funds from state-controlled entities in their respective home countries.
The organization said the decision was “developed through constructive dialogue” with the UK government, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) – which is the governing body of UK tennis – and international bodies involved in the sport.
The AELTC initially banned Russian and Belarusian players from events on British soil in April 2022 over the Ukraine conflict, in a bid to deprive Moscow and Minsk of alleged “Propaganda” benefits.
This year’s Wimbledon will take place from July 3-16, featuring Russian trio Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Daria Kasatkina, as well as the widely anticipated Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka.
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