“My understanding of the guidance was that Russians and Belarusians can play if they sign a declaration that they’re against the war. I’m not sure how comfortable I would feel if something happened to one of the players or their families. The guidance from the government was not helpful”
Last Updated: 02/05/22 9:19am
Andy Murray is “not supportive” of the plan to ban Russian and Belarusian players from Wimbledon following the invasion of Ukraine – but says there is no “right answer” to the situation.
Wimbledon officials said a directive from the government had left them “with no viable alternative” but to prevent players from Russia and Belarus from participating at this year’s Grand Slam, which starts on June 27.
The government is understood to have asked sporting bodies to request written confirmation of players’ neutrality if they are to compete.
Murray, who is donating all of his prize money this season to humanitarian relief in Ukraine, said the guidance from the government “was not helpful”.
Speaking ahead of his first-round match with Dominic Thiem at the Madrid Open on Monday, the 34-year-old said: “I’m not supportive of players getting banned. The guidance from the government was not helpful.
“My understanding of the guidance was that Russians and Belarusians can play if they sign a declaration that they’re against the war and against the Russian regime.
“I’m not sure how comfortable I would feel if something happened to one of the players or their families (as a result). I don’t think there’s a right answer.
“I have spoken to some of the Russian players. I’ve spoken to some of the Ukrainian players. I feel really bad for the players who aren’t allowed to play and I get that it will seem unfair to them.
“But I also know some of the people who work at Wimbledon, and I know how difficult a position they were in. I feel for everyone, feel for the players that can’t play, and I don’t support one side or the other.”
Nadal: Wimbledon ban on Russian and Belarusian players ‘very unfair’
The ban has been criticised by many players, with Andrey Rublev calling the decision “complete discrimination”, Novak Djokovic branding it “crazy” and Victoria Azarenka believing it makes “no sense”.
Now, Rafael Nadal has described it as “very unfair”.
Nadal said: “I think it’s very unfair (on) my Russian tennis mates, my colleagues. It’s not their fault what’s happening in this moment with the war.”
The governing bodies of men’s and women’s professional tennis, the ATP and WTA, are against the ban and could decide to remove ranking points from Wimbledon this year.
Nadal added: “The 2,000 points whenever we go to the Grand Slams are really important and we have to go to those tournaments. We will have to see the measures that we take.
“At the end of the day, what happens in our game, it doesn’t have any importance when we can see so many people dying and suffering and seeing the bad situation they are having in Ukraine.”
Djokovic – who like Murray and Nadal is playing in Madrid this week – added: “I still stand by my position that I don’t support the decision. I think it’s just not fair, it’s not right, but it is what it is.
“They are entitled to make the decision and now I guess it’s on the player council, the tour management, to really decide along with the players what is the best solution in this situation, whether they keep the points, protect the points, take away 50 per cent of the points, or whatever.
“I really doubt that there won’t be any points. Probably the more realistic option is to protect the points from the Russian and Belarusian players that are not playing.”