Russian and Belarusian Players Allowed to Compete at U.S. Open

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(Reuters) -Russian and Belarusian players will be allowed to compete at the U.S. Open this year but only as neutrals, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced on Tuesday, a decision that stands in stark contrast to Wimbledon which banned them.

Wimbledon’s move to ban them from the tournament which begins later this month prompted the men’s ATP and women’s WTA Tours to strip the grasscourt Grand Slam of its ranking points.

The decision prevents players such as men’s world number one Daniil Medvedev of Russia from playing at the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) but the USTA said Russian and Belarusian players would be welcome at Flushing Meadows.

“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.”

Players from the two countries were allowed to play at the French Open.

AELTC Chairman Ian Hewitt said in April that British government guidance did not allow players to compete at the tournament based on their rankings.

He said there were two available options — declining entries, or allowing entries but only with specific written declarations from individual players, adding that they made the “most responsible decision possible in the circumstances”.

“We recognize that each organization has had to deal with unique circumstances that affect their decisions,” the USTA added.

“Based on our own circumstances, the USTA will allow all eligible players, regardless of nationality, to compete at the 2022 U.S. Open.”

The ATP and WTA have themselves banned Russia and Belarus from international team competitions following the invasion, which Moscow calls a ‘special operation’, but allowed players from the two countries to compete as neutrals.

The main draw at the U.S. Open begins on Aug. 29.

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