Former world number one Daniil Medvedev and other Russian and Belarusian tennis stars may have to denounce President Vladimir Putin if they want to continue playing at international events, including Wimbledon, this year. However, Medvedev has been warned that such actions could endanger his family.
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston is actively working on the requirements for athletes from the two nations to compete in international tournaments. The United Kingdom government is in talks with the All-England Club about players like Medvedev from ‘pariah states’ participating at SW19 this summer.
Russian and Belarusian players are currently allowed to compete as individuals under a neutral flag. But Huddleston is pushing for further requirements and appeared at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee hearing last week.
Medvedev and other leading Russian players in Andrey Rublev and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova may have to denounce Putin and his attack on Ukraine if they want to challenge for majors this season. But Australian tennis icon Todd Woodbridge believes doing so could put his family back in Russia in harm’s way.
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He told Nine’s Sports Sunday: “That is such slippery and dangerous ground. We all know they have families back in whatever part of Russia they are from, and you do not want to be on the wrong side of that because your family will pay the price.
“This is really dangerous territory and one that we have to be very sensitive about. It’s an individual sport. I feel at this point, we allow them to play. [Fellow Russian player] Andre Rublev this week made it through to a semi-final.
“It’s really hard if we go down that line. Teams are different; that is national representation. Individuals are different. A lot of them don’t live in that country… As an example, for 11 years of my career, I lived in the United States.
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