Tennis star Novak Djokovic has slammed Wimbledon as ‘crazy’, after banning Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s tournament to support Ukraine amid the Russian invasion.
At the ATP event in Belgrade, the Serbian tennis player said despite being a ‘child of war’, he completely disagrees with Wimbledon’s decision, according to Fox Sports.
He said: “I will always condemn war, I will never support war being myself a child of war."
“I know how much emotional trauma it leaves. In Serbia we all know what happened in 1999. In the Balkans we have had many wars in recent history.
“However, I cannot support the decision of Wimbledon, I think it is 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.”
Wimbledon announced yesterday that they would ban players from the Eastern European countries, marking the first time they have done so since World War II.
The All England Club shared in a statement: “Given the profile of The Championships in the United Kingdom and around the world, it is our responsibility to play our part in the widespread efforts of Government, industry, sporting and creative institutions to limit Russia’s global influence through the strongest means possible.
“In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with The Championships.
“It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022.”
Chairman of the All England Club Ian Hewitt also said that the tournament even considered ‘alternative measures’.
However, ultimately, they wanted to take a stance against Russia as they entered the second phase of the war.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov spoke out against the ban and said Wimbledon would inevitably ‘suffer’ from this decision, according to ABC News.
He said: "Given that Russia is a strong tennis country the competitions will suffer from this.
"To make sports people hostages of political intrigue is unacceptable. I hope the players won't lose their fitness."
However, tennis isn’t the only sport banning players from these regions, as football, figure skating, and track and field organisations have banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from their events due to the war.
SPORTbible reports that the Russian men's national football team was excluded from the World Cup qualifiers last month, subsequently leading them to miss out on this year’s tournament in Qatar.
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