WTA head says players should not be banned from tournaments because of politics

Steve Simon, WTA head, does not think that athletes should be penalised for the political decisions of their leadership and that they should be able to compete in international tournaments.

As Russians currently face sanctions in all major fields of activity around the world, WTA head, Steve Simon does not think that athletes should be penalised as well. The tennis players from Russia and Belarus are not allowed to compete because of their nationality but can do so under a neutral flag and name in all competitions. While few Russian athletes have voiced their concerns over the growing suspension from games, a board representative speaking for the players is a first.

Simon said that the athletes have never been stopped from participating in tournaments as a result of political positions, particularly, because of the ‘decisions of authoritarian leadership’, he told BBC Sports. He explained that he ‘feels very strongly about the Russian and Belarussian players who are unable to play and also feels certain that they should be allowed to compete despite the political conditions of their respective countries.

“You never know what the future may bring but it would take something very, very significant for that to change, but again we don’t know where this is going”, he told BBCSports. He admitted that the situation that the players are in, is difficult to comprehend and that if a change so happens, it should be one of great significance.

The combined event scheduled for Moscow in October has been suspended by both, WTA and ATP boards as a reason for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, along with the cancellation of all international tennis federation tournaments in Russia and Belarus as a result of the invasion. Russian and Belarussian athletes continue to face sanctions across all sports amidst the ongoing crisis and have been suspended, banned from representing their country.

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