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U.S. Open Will Allow Russian and Belarusian Tennis Players to Compete

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The U.S. Open won’t follow Wimbledon by barring Russian and Belarusian players from this yr’s tennis tournament.

America Tennis Association, which owns and operates the U.S. Open, announced the choice on Tuesday after a recent meeting of its board of directors. The move leaves Wimbledon because the only Grand Slam tournament to bar Russians and Belarusians within the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

“This horrible atrocity absolutely weighed on all of us,” said Lew Sherr, the brand new chief executive of the usT.A., referring to the war in Ukraine. “But I believe at the tip of the day we selected not to carry the person athletes accountable for the selections of their respective governments.”

Wimbledon’s ban, made partly in response to pressure for motion from the British government, has received strong support from the British public, as demonstrated in opinion polls. However the ban was met with disapproval from the boys’s and girls’s tennis tours, which responded by stripping Wimbledon of rating points this yr despite considerable debate and dissent amongst players.

Sherr said U.S.T.A. officials had discussions in recent weeks with the leaders of Wimbledon and the opposite two Grand Slam tournaments, the French Open and the Australian Open. “It was very clear each of us was coping with a novel set of circumstances,” he said. “Wimbledon, of their case, there was a government directive involved as well, and we got here out and strongly supported their decision given their circumstances. Our circumstances are different, and in our case, we felt this was the best decision for us.”

Russian and Belarusian players will compete within the U.S. Open, which is able to begin Aug. 29, under a neutral flag, just as they’ve been competing on tour and on the recently concluded French Open.

Daniil Medvedev of Russia won the U.S. Open men’s singles title last yr and is back at No. 1 within the ATP singles rankings this week. Victoria Azarenka of Belarus is a three-time U.S. Open women’s singles finalist. Aryna Sabalenka, one other Belarusian women’s star, reached the semifinals of last yr’s U.S. Open.

All shall be absent from Wimbledon, which begins on June 27, and Russian and Belarusian players have also been barred from the preliminary events this month in Britain at Queen’s Club, Eastbourne and other venues. The usT.A. ultimately selected to go in a special direction, though Sherr reiterated on Tuesday that it viewed the tours’ decision to strip points from Wimbledon as “disproportionate.”

For now, no other tour events outside Britain have followed Wimbledon’s lead, although tennis authorities did move swiftly after the invasion of Ukraine to bar Russian and Belarusian teams from competing in team events just like the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup.

Updated 

June 14, 2022, 3:25 p.m. ET

“This isn’t a straightforward situation,” Sherr said. “It’s a horrific situation for those in Ukraine, an unprovoked and unjust invasion and absolutely horrific so anything we discuss pales in relation to what is occurring there.”

Sherr said the usT.A. would use the U.S. Open to assist raise funds for relief efforts in Ukraine and to “display our support for the Ukrainian people.”

Sherr said the usT.A. had received no pressure or directive from the U.S. government related to the participation of Russian and Belarusian players.

Russian players like Medvedev have already competed in the US since international restrictions were put in place, playing in March on the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., and on the Miami Open. Russian stars in other sports, like Alexander Ovechkin of the N.H.L.’s Washington Capitals, have continued to compete for his or her North American clubs.

“The discussion within the board was really about principles and what we felt was right for us and never a function of what the N.H.L. is perhaps doing; not a function of even what is perhaps happening elsewhere in tennis,” Sherr said. “Really it was a fundamental issue of on the one hand you have got atrocities and a horrible situation and alternatively are we prepared to carry these individuals accountable for those decisions?”

Though Medvedev should give you the chance, if healthy, to defend his title in Latest York, the player he defeated in last yr’s final, Novak Djokovic of Serbia, stays unable to enter the US because he’s an unvaccinated foreigner. That policy, which kept Djokovic from competing in Indian Wells or Miami this yr, could change before the U.S. Open begins, but Sherr made it clear on Tuesday that the usT.A. wouldn’t be searching for an exemption for unvaccinated foreign players to compete in Latest York.

“We’re going to follow the federal government and C.D.C. directives,” said Sherr, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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