Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina calls on Russian and Belarusian players to make stance known
Former World number three Elina Svitolina has claimed that Russian and Belarusian players should be able to play at Wimbledon this summer as long as they denounce the war in Ukraine and Putin’s regime.
This statement by the world number 25 comes after Wimbledon’s announcement to ban all Russian and Belarusian players from the Grand Slam this summer.
These are the first direct sanctions a tournament has put in place against the players from the two countries and it means the likes of world number two Daniil Medvedev and world number four Aryna Sabalenka will not be able to compete.
The ban by Wimbledon has been heavily criticized by the ATP, former players and current players on tour such as world number one Novak Djokovic branding the sanctions as “crazy”.
On Wednesday, Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina posted a passionate plea on her social media, asking the ATP, WTA and ITF to demand answers from Russian and Belarusian players regarding their stance on the war in Ukraine.
“Dear Tennis Community, Ginetta Sagan once said, “Silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor. This could not be any more true right now.
“On 24th February 2022, Russia, with the support of Belarus, attacked Ukraine. Now there is a war in our country, in our home. All Ukrainians are forced to leave their homes and fight for their lives,” she continued going on to speak about the death of civilians and millions who had been left homeless and have had to fend for their lives since Russia invaded her Ukraine.
The 2018 WTA Finals champion also referred to athletes responsibility which they have in modern day sport and the role that they can play on social media, with silence not being an option.
“As athletes we live a life in the public eye and therefore have an enormous responsibility. Some of our posts and opinions on social media reach an audience larger than those of regional television stations. In times of crisis, silence means agreeing with what is happening.
“We noticed that some Russian and Belarusian players at some point vaguely mentioned the war, but never clearly stating that Russia and Belarus started it on the territory of Ukraine. The very silence of those who choose to remain that way right now is unbearable as it leads to the continuation of murder in our homeland.”
Elina Svitolina then urged tennis’ governing bodies to ask three specific questions to all players hailing from Russia and Belarus.
“We demand that the WTA, ATP and ITF make sure that players who represent Russia and Belarus answer the following questions: 1. Do you support Russia’s and Belarus invasion in Ukraine’s territory and as a result of that the war started by those countries? 2. Do you support Russia’s and Belarus military activities in Ukraine? 3. Do you support Putin’s and Lukashenko’s regime?”
The 16-time tour-title winner also outlined her demands if players failed to answer the questions or showed support for the war by saying, “If applicable, we demand to exclude and ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in any international event, as Wimbledon already done. There comes a time when silence is betrayal, and that time is now.”
— Elina Monfils (@ElinaSvitolina) April 20, 2022
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