Daniil Medvedev and other Russian and Belarusian tennis players face being banned from Wimbledon unless they publicly denounce the Ukraine invasion, the Government has confirmed.
Sports minister Nigel Huddleston revealed “discussions” were taking place with the All England Club over preventing “supporters of Vladimir Putin” entering the sport’s biggest tournament.
He did so as it emerged Russia had lost the first round of its legal fight against its exile from world sport.
Unprecedented sporting sanctions have been imposed on Russia and Belarus over the Ukraine invasion – including being thrown out of tennis’s Davis Cup and Fed Cup.
But individual players have so far been allowed to continue competing as neutrals, including world number one Medvedev.
Giving evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport select committee, Huddleston said: “It needs to go beyond that. We need some potential assurance that they are not supporters of Vladimir Putin and we are considering what requirements we may need to try and get some assurances along those lines.”
Asked whether individual Russian and Belarusian athletes wanting to come to the UK would be required to “denounce” Putin’s invasion, Huddleston said the details were still being discussed, including with other countries. He added: “It would be better if we can decide some broad global consensus on this.”
Medvedev removed the Russian flag from his Instagram account following the invasion and posted an impassioned call for peace in the world after replacing Novak Djokovic at the top of the men’s rankings.
But he may need to go further to play at Wimbledon, with Medvedev acknowledging rules allowing him to play could change after he was knocked out of the BNP Paribas Open by the husband of Ukraine’s biggest tennis star.
“First of all, it’s definitely not for me to decide,” he said following his exit to Gaël Monfils, who recently married Elina Svitolina.
“I follow the rules. I cannot do anything else. Right now, the rule is that we can play under our neutral flag.”
World No 6 Andrey Rublev has gone further than Medvedev by explicitly calling for an end to the war, while Russian women’s No 1 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has been the most outspoken of the country’s players.