Tennis: Djokovic and other unvaccinated stars allowed to compete at Wimbledon

LONDON (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS) – Unlike at the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic might be free to defend his Wimbledon title after the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (AELTC) on Tuesday (April 26) confirmed proof of Covid-19 vaccination wouldn’t be essential so as to compete at this yr’s grass-court Grand Slam, scheduled for June 27-July 10.

Organisers additionally stated there can be no plans for any virus countermeasures affecting crowd measurement as in contrast to the previous two editions.

Tournament chiefs added Wimbledon was left with “no viable alternative” to banning Russian and Belarusian gamers from this yr’s Championships.

The unilateral transfer was made final week in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which means stars akin to males’s world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka can not play at the third Slam of the yr. The determination has since been criticised by the ATP, which runs the lads’s tour, and ladies’s tour organisers the WTA.

Rublev has referred to as the choice “complete discrimination”, as did Djokovic, who felt it was “crazy”.

But AELTC chairman Ian Hewitt has defended the transfer on Tuesday, saying the choice was made considering British authorities steering.

“We have considered at length the options available,” he stated.

“These are in impact two choices – declining entries or permitting entries however solely with particular declarations (in opposition to the invasion of Ukraine) from particular person gamers.

“We thought of all kinds of things. After prolonged and cautious consideration, we got here to two agency conclusions. First, even when we have been to settle for entries (from Russian and Belarusian gamers) with written declarations, we’d threat their success or participation getting used to profit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime, which we couldn’t settle for.

“Second, we have a duty to ensure no actions should put players or their families at risk… We believe we have made the most responsible decision possible. We believe there is no viable alternative in this truly exceptional and tragic situation.”

As the Slams are autonomous, potential sanctions by the ATP and the WTA, whose official stance is to proceed to enable Russian and Belarusian gamers to compete, excluding workforce occasions, as neutrals, might embody a refusal to award rating factors.

That might cut back Wimbledon to the standing of a high-profile exhibition occasion.

On that chance, AELTC chief govt Sally Bolton stated: “We gained’t be speculating on what might or might not occur sooner or later.

Bolton additionally revealed that discussions are ongoing with the British authorities relating to the attendance of Russian coaches and tennis officers, however confirmed Russian media shops might be banned.

Meanwhile, Swiss nice Roger Federer, who hasn’t performed competitively since final yr’s Wimbledon, is about to return to the ATP circuit at the Basel indoor event in October, organisers stated.

Federer underwent two knee operations in 2020 and returned to the Tour final yr, however had one other knee surgical procedure after Wimbledon that pressured him to miss the second half of the season.

In February, Federer confirmed his plans to workforce up with Spaniard Rafael Nadal at the Laver Cup in London in September.

The Swiss Indoors event will return to the calendar for the primary time since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and is scheduled to happen between Oct 24-30. Federer is a document 10-time winner in Basel and will return because the reigning champion at the occasion, the place he has not misplaced since 2013.

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