Does Wimbledon’s ban on Russian players really serve a purpose?
The organisers would like this to be viewed as a principled decision, but it risks looking more like a hollow display
Deploying sanctions against Russian oligarchs and banks was a no-brainer. Now comes the far thornier question about how far to go in cancelling Vladimir Putin’s Russia — not just politically connected elites but the athletes, artists and other symbolic ambassadors of the regime.
The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club — the body that runs the historic Wimbledon championship — decided last week to ban Russian and Belarusian tennis players from this year’s tournament. Roland Garros, as the French Open is called, has not made a similar determination, which leaves the odd spectacle of Russian players being banned in some places and not others. One look at tennis Twitter and you can see a neatly divided fandom.
The club would like this to be viewed as a principled decision, akin to the apartheid-era bans on SA athletes that served to ostracise the ruling National Party. But it risks looking more like a hollow display of off-court gamesmanship, like an orchestra refusing to play Tchaikovsky...