Wimbledon chairman Ian Hewitt has stressed the role of the UK Government in the All England Club’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s Championship; “We believe we have made the most responsible decision possible”

Wimbledon was left with “no viable alternative” but to ban Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s Championship, chairman Ian Hewitt said at the All England Club’s spring briefing.

The All England Club made the announcement last week, ruling out US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Aryna Sabalenka from featuring at the Grand Slam.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Victoria Azarenka – a two-time Australian Open champion – will also miss out.

Russian and Belarusian players have also been banned from LTA grass court tournaments this summer.

Expanding on the announcement, Hewitt stressed the role of the UK Government.

He said: “The UK Government has set out directive guidance for sporting bodies and events in the UK with specific aim of limiting Russia’s influence.

“We have considered at length the options available. These are in effect two options: declining entries or allowing entries but only with specific declarations (against the invasion of Ukraine) from individual players.

“We considered a wide variety of factors. After lengthy and careful consideration, we came to two firm conclusions. First, even if we were to accept entries (from Russian and Belarusian players) with written declarations, we would risk their success or participation being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime, which we could not accept.

“Second, we have a duty to ensure no actions should put players or their families at risk. We understand and deeply regret the impact this will have on all the people affected.

“We believe we have made the most responsible decision possible. We believe [given Government guidance] there is no viable alternative in this truly exceptional and tragic situation.”

The WTA and ATP have both criticised Wimbledon’s decision and are holding meetings in Madrid this week to decide how to react, with removing ranking points from the tournament a possibility.

Chief executive Sally Bolton said they were in daily communication with the tours, adding: “We won’t be speculating on what may or may not happen in the future.

“We continue to make the case for why we have made the decision we have made and the unique set of circumstances we find ourselves in here in the UK. They absolutely appreciate that.”

Bolton also revealed discussions are ongoing with the government regarding Russian coaches and other officials, while Russian media outlets will also be banned.

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