Rublev blasts Wimbledon ban as 'complete discrimination
Tennis player Andrey Rublev describes Wimbledon's Russia-Belarus ban as "illogical", and Belarus Tennis Federation accuses UK government officials of "incompetence and ignorance."
Russian world number eight in Tennis, Andrey Rublev, blasted Thursday Wimbledon's ban on Russian and Belarusian players as "complete discrimination", while Belarus officials said the decision will only "incite hatred" and threatened legal action to have the sanction overturned.
"The reasons they (Wimbledon) gave us had no sense, they were illogical," pointed out Rublev on the sidelines of the Belgrade ATP event.
He stressed that "what is happening now is complete discrimination against us."
Wimbledon on Wednesday banned all Russian and Belarusian players from taking part in this year's Grand Slam event in response to the war in Ukraine.
Statement regarding Russian and Belarusian individuals at The Championships 2022.— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) April 20, 2022
The decision means Rublev, as well as compatriot and world number two Daniil Medvedev and women's fourth-ranked Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, will not take part in the upcoming tournament.
"Banning Russian or Belarusian players....will not change anything," noted Rublev, adding that "to give all the prize money to humanitarian help, to the families who are suffering, to the kids who are suffering, I think that would do something.
BTF condemns Wimbledon decision
For its part, the Belarus Tennis Federation (BTF) accused UK government officials of "incompetence and ignorance."
"The BTF categorically condemns the decision taken by the organisers of Wimbledon to suspend Belarusian and Russian tennis players," the federation said in a strongly-worded statement.
"Such destructive actions in no way contribute to the resolution of conflicts, but only incite hatred and intolerance on a national basis," the statement read.
The body added that "at the moment, consultations of the BTF leadership with international law firms on sports law are ongoing and a strategy is being developed that is aimed at protecting, first of all, Belarusian tennis players around the world, and tennis in the Republic of Belarus as a whole."
Barred from competing under Russian & Belarussian flags
Similarly, US tennis trailblazer Billie Jean King, a founder of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) in 1973, said she "cannot support" the Wimbledon decision.
"I cannot support the banning of individual athletes from any tournament, simply because of their nationality," said the six-time Wimbledon champion.
At the moment, players representing Russia and Belarus are allowed to take part in ATP and WTA events but are barred from competing under the name or flag of their countries.
Djokovic: Crazy decision
World number one Novak Djokovic described Wimbledon's decision as "crazy".
"The players, the tennis players, the athletes have nothing to do with it (war). When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good," the Serbian star expressed on Wednesday.
The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), which runs Wimbledon, claimed it was acting to "limit Russia's global influence through the strongest means possible."
But the ATP and WTA said the ban was "unfair" and "very disappointing".