“When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good,” Novak Djokovic said of Wimbledon banning Russian and Belarusian players on Wednesday
“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,” he said, according to CNN.
“However, I cannot support the decision of Wimbledon, I think it is crazy,” added the 20-time Grand Slam titleholder, who also recently withdrew from multiple U.S. tennis tournaments due to his vaccination status. “When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good.”
“I will always condemn war, I will never support war being myself a child of war,” said Djokovic.
Tournament officials announced their decision in a statement Wednesday: “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,” Wimbledon officials’ statement continued. “It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022.”
Wimbledon, which is one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, would have seen a number of highly ranked Russian and Belarusian players: No. 2 Daniil Medvedev and No. 15 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, and No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka and No. 18 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.
The tournament hasn’t banned athletes since players from Germany and Japan were barred from competing during World War II, ESPN reported.
Wimbledon is scheduled to kick off June 27 and end July 10. Tournament officials added, “If circumstances change materially between now and June, we will consider and respond accordingly.”