Wimbledon aerial

‘If we give in we are lost’ – IOC president slams Wimbledon 2022 ban of Russian and Belarusian athletes

Wimbledon and the British government have come under fire from International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach for the move to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from the 2022 Championships. 

The German, 62, used Wimbledon and its government-influenced decision to ban those players back in April as a warning to other international sporting federations at the 46th General Assembly of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF).

ASOIF has 32 members, including the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the body that governs the Davis Cup, Billie Jean King Cup, junior tennis, Olympic tennis and lower level ITF events.

At the meeting in Lauseanne, Switzerland, Bach said: “We need the respect of [world] governments for our role.

“Look at our friends from tennis.

“In Paris, Russian [and Belarusian] players can play as neutral athletes.

“In London, at Wimbledon, the [UK] government is saying no way.

He then warned: “And if we (sporting federations) allow this, if we give into this, then we are lost.”

In May, the month after the British Slam announced the ban, the ATP, WTA and ITF all stripped ranking points from the Slam for 2022, leveraging what powers they could against the institution.

The ATP made two particularly relevant points in their statement on the matter.

They said: “We note that [the suggestion of the ban from the government] was informal guidance, not a mandate.”

The ATP added: “We believe this again highlights the need for a united governance structure across professional tennis so that decisions of this nature can be made in a joint manner.”

Bach’s further warning on government influence relate to similar concerns.

He continued on government intervention: “How then can you guarantee in your sport a fair international competition, if the governments are deciding according to their own political interests, who can take part in a competition and who cannot take part?

“If you open this gate, today, it is Russia and Belarus, tomorrow it is your country.

“There is no country in the world which is loved by every other government.”

Wimbledon 2022 gets underway on 27th June, with no sign of  a change to the ban on Russian and Belarusian players.

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