LONDON (AP)The Lawn Tennis Association was fined $1 million by the ATP men’s professional tour on Wednesday for banning players from Russia and Belarus from its grass-court events this summer.
The governing body of British tennis banned the players from five Wimbledon warm-up tournaments following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The ATP, which oversees men’s tennis outside of the Grand Slams, also warned the LTA it could lose its membership in the organization if it repeats the ban.
”We stand by our original position on this matter, that unilateral decision-making by members of the ATP Tour threatens our ability to operate as a global sport,” the ATP said in a statement. ”We believe that the measures taken protect the long-term future of our game and its commitment to merit-based participation, without discrimination, for individual athletes. We have no further comment.”
The LTA said it ”deeply disappointed” with the tour’s action.
”The ATP, in its finding, has shown no recognition of the exceptional circumstances created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, or the international sporting community and UK government’s response to that invasion,” the organization said in a statement.
”The ATP appear to regard this matter as a straightforward breach of their rules – with a surprising lack of empathy shown for the situation in Ukraine, and a clear lack of understanding of the unique circumstances the LTA faced,” it added.
The All England Club banned Russian and Belarusian players from the Wimbledon tournament earlier this year, also. Wimbledon organizers made the decision after considering guidance from the British government.
On Wednesday, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach criticized the British government for ”interfering.”
”Governments should not decide on political grounds who is participating in which sports events,” Bach said.
The ATP’s action follows fines totaling $1 million handed the LTA and All England Club by the WTA women’s professional tennis tour. The two bodies have appealed those fines.
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