Over the past 12 months, ongoing debate has emerged regarding the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes at Wimbledon and the upcoming Olympics Games. Wimbledon- arguably the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, last year decided to exclude Russian and Belarusian players from being able to compete in the 135th edition of The Championships.
The ban caused incredible displeasure- and rightly so. Firstly, why should private citizens be punished or made an example of when they are simply trying to earn a living for themselves? For all tennis players involved, what is happening in the background on either side has nothing to do with them personally. Aryna Sabalenka, Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev are simply individuals who hit a ball over a net for a living- so how does this entire situation have anything to do with them?
That seems to be the most important point people seem to be forgetting with this entire situation. All other discussions should be secondary to the fact that Russian and Belarusian tennis players are just like any other tennis players on our tour. They hit a ball over the net, they win WTA and ATP 500 events- and they keep us excited for the next match just like any other player.
Unfortunately the human aspect has seemingly been completely lost in this entire discussion. For many, these tennis players are not just simply tennis players or human beings, they are labels: “Russian tennis players” and “Belarusian tennis players”. What exactly makes a tennis player different from another tennis player? In this label based society, it seems we have forgotten that these people are just regular athletes and human beings at the end of the day.
These tennis players are human beings who have a life to live and don’t sit around reading headlines and getting into politics. Why? The answer is simple- because they are sweating and hitting balls 7 days a week- and their life doesn’t revolve around political discussions. We often fail to forget that these tennis players are just your average human beings who are focused on the same day-to-day things that the average person thinks about: their expenses, their personal lives and their work.
It is such a wonder why the participation of players in these tournaments is a big deal when you factor in the human element of this whole discussion. Tennis players, no matter where they come from, are human beings who are trying to get by in this world. Any other suggestion for their focus is simply ludicrous to suggest, because it simply is not the case.
Earlier this week, news also broke that Queens and Eastbourne could be relocated from England if the ban was not reversed.To make matters easier however, the WTA has proposed they are willing to halve (by 50 percent) the fine given to the Lawn Tennis Association and All England Tennis Club. This is on the condition that they drop the ban on Russian and Belarusian tennis players at the events .Furthermore, the ATP and WTA have both proposed they will cancel the Lawn Tennis Association’s licence if it continues to allow “discrimination based on nationality”.
So, all in all, do you believe the current ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes at Wimbledon is acceptable?