The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has opted for a less severe punishment than called for from the Olympics committee and will allow individual athletes from Russia and Belarus to play tournaments.
Following the crisis in Ukraine, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) executive board recommended that sports federations and event organisers “not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions.” (Belarus has supported the Russian invasion.
Following the call, FIFA banned all Russian national teams and clubs from all competitions “until further notice”, all but ruling them out of World Cup qualification.
The move sparked conversation around whether sport bodies will heed the IOC’s advice and ban high-profile individual athletes.
This would see new ATP World No.1 Russian Daniil Medvedev banned from the sport.
Belarusian WTA World No.3 Aryna Sabalenka would also find herself sidelined.
And on Wednesday, the ITF announced individual athletes would not be banned from taking part in ATP and WTA events.
Although Russian and Belarusian players will play under a neutral flag.
However, Russia and Belarus would be banned from taking part in team events such as the Davis Cup and the Billie Jean King Cup.
“The international governing bodies of tennis stand united in our condemnation of Russia’s actions and, as a result, are in agreement with the following decisions and actions,” the statement read.
“The WTA and ATP Boards have made the decision to suspend the WTA / ATP combined event, scheduled this October in Moscow.
“The ITF Board has made the decision to suspend the Russian Tennis Federation and Belarus Tennis Federation membership and to withdraw their entries from all ITF international team competition until further notice. This action follows the cancellation of all ITF tournaments in Russia and Belarus indefinitely.
“At this time, players from Russia and Belarus will continue to be allowed to compete in international tennis events on Tour and at the Grand Slams. However, they will not compete under the name or flag of Russia or Belarus until further notice.”
The move certainly started a conversation around whether the ban was the right decision.