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Novak Djokovic has been slammed for his comments on Wimbledon’s ban of Russian and Belarusian athletes. The world No 1 condemned the move to bar players from the two nations and has now been told his stance is “especially inappropriate” by a top Russian chess player.
Djokovic was one of many players who came out to criticise Wimbledon for their decision to ban all Russian and Belarusians from The Championships this year, calling it “crazy”. But the world No 1 has now been accused of being “inappropriate” for his view.
“Russia may play by ranking, but they kill by nationality,” Garry Kasparov, the Russian World Chess Champion tweeted in response to Djokovic’s remarks. “Russian athletes who do not condemn Putin’s war of extermination in Ukraine are supporting it with silence.”
Turning his attention to the 20-time Major champion, he added: “And a Serb failing to do so is especially inappropriate, considering history.” Djokovic has branded the ban an act of “discrimination” as he touched on his experiences growing up in the war in Serbia.
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“I will always be the first one to condemn the war. As a child of war, I know what kind of emotional trauma a war leaves. Us in Serbia, we know what was happening here in 1999,” he told reporters in Belgrade. “Ordinary people always suffer – we’ve had lots of wars in the Balkans. That being said, I cannot support the Wimbledon decision.”
Claiming that politics shouldn’t be brought into tennis, he continued: “It’s not the athletes’ fault. When politics interfere with sport, it usually doesn’t turn out well. I personally believe there’s no need to suspend Russian players.
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“Competing is their right, there’s a rule against discrimination in tennis, which states that everyone can play according to his ranking and not his nationality. Wimbledon has violated it.”
The tournament confirmed the ban on Wednesday, with the LTA following suit and banning all Russian and Belarusian players from the British grass-court tournaments. In a statement, Wimbledon said: “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.”
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