US Open's decision on Russia divides tennis world: 'Spineless'

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Defending champion Daniil Medvedev will be able to compete at the US Open despite Russian leader Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Pic: Getty
Defending champion Daniil Medvedev will be able to compete at the US Open despite Russian leader Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Pic: Getty

The US Tennis Association (USTA) has announced that Russian and Belarusian players will be able to compete at this year's grand slam in New York, in a move that has divided fans.

In making the announcement, the USTA has distanced itself from Wimbledon, which controversially banned players from Russia and Belarus competing at the All England Club, in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

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Wimbledon's ban prompted the men's and women's tour to withdraw ranking points from the event, sparking criticism from many of the world's top players.

USTA CEO and Executive Director Lew Sherr told The Associated Press on Tuesday, that the USTA Board decided to let Russians and Belarusians enter the tournament because of "concern about holding the individual athletes accountable for the actions and decisions of their governments."

Sherr said athletes from Russia and Belarus will play at Flushing Meadows under a neutral flag - an arrangement that's been used at various tennis tournaments around the world, including the French Open, which ended on June 5.

It means World No.1 Daniil Medvedev will be able to try and defend the maiden grand slam singles title he won at Flushing Meadows in 2021.

Since Russia began the invasion in February, Russian athletes have been prevented from taking part in many sports, including soccer's World Cup qualifying playoffs. Belarus has aided Russia in the invasion.

Russia were also banned from international team events in tennis, the Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup. The nation was the reigning champion in both.

"Alongside the other Grand Slams, the ITF, the ATP and the WTA, the USTA, which owns and operates the US Open, has previously condemned, and continues to condemn, the unprovoked and unjust invasion of Ukraine by Russia," the USTA said.

"The USTA ... supported the banning of the Russian and Belarusian Tennis Federations from the ITF, and therefore all international team competitions, and the directive for players from those countries to play under a neutral flag when competing outside of international team competitions."

Pictured here, Daniil Medvedev poses with the 2021 US Open trophy.
Daniil Medvedev will be allowed to defend his 2021 US Open title after the ruling from the USTA. Pic: Getty

The Wimbledon ban means neither the men's No. 1 Medvedev, or the women's No. 5 Belarusian Arnya Sabalenka, will participate later this month.

The US Open starts on August 29 in New York.

US Open decision divides tennis world

Ukrainian player Sergiy Stakhovsky slammed the decision, writing on Twitter: "You cannot put a price tag on being able to live with yourself. I salute Wimbledon, the only entity which has a moral code."

While plenty of other tennis fans shared Stakhovsky's outrage, the issue proved particularly divisive on social media.

with AAP

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