Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine is “crazy,” according to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
Due to the invasion, which Russia calls a “special operation,” Wimbledon confirmed on Wednesday that all Russian and Belarusian players will be forbidden from competing in this year’s championships.
Individual players from the two countries will be barred from the grasscourt Grand Slam, which runs from June 27 to July 10. Men’s world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev of Russia and women’s fourth-ranked Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus will both be banned.
Djokovic, who grew up in war-torn Serbia, said the athletes had nothing to do with the ongoing conflict.
“I will always condemn war, I will never support war being myself a child of war,” Djokovic told reporters at the Serbia Open, an ATP 250 event in Belgrade.
“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.”
“When politics interfere with sport, the result is not good.”
The ATP and WTA tours have both condemned the All England Lawn Tennis Club’s (AELTC) decision.
This is the first time players have been banned based on the country since the early post-World War Two era when German and Japanese players were barred from participating.
If circumstances change between now and June, the AELTC said it would “consider and respond accordingly.”