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Estonia has become the second country to follow in the footsteps of Wimbledon and the British government in banning all Russian and Belarusian players from competing in their upcoming tennis tournaments. The Baltic country is hosting several lower-level ITF and Futures events next month, and is hoping to send a “clear message” with the ban. But unlike Wimbledon, the tournaments will be able to keep their ranking points awarded to players.
Estonia is staging two ITF tournaments next month, as well as a men’s Futures event and a women’s W25. All Russian and Belarusian players will be banned from competing in the four tournaments, with the country’s acting culture minister accusing the Russian government of using sporting success for their own gain.
“International sports are now in no way separated from politics, Russia and Belarus use sports to achieve their strategic goals. With this decision, we are sending a clear message,” Liina Kersna said in a statement. The move comes after players from the two nations were banned from competing in Britain over the grass season.
Acting under government guidelines, the All England Club banned all Russians and Belarusians from competing in The Championships, with the LTA following suit and barring them from any grass warm-up events in the country, including the likes of Queen’s and Eastbourne. But unlike Wimbledon, the four tournaments in Estonia will not have their ranking points stripped.
JUST IN: Emma Raducanu’s ‘tough love’ from parents as she plots tennis return The ITF has decided not to remove points on offer for the players who can compete at the tournaments next month, in contrast to the ATP and WTA’s decision to remove points on offer at Wimbledon this year and remove any points won last year from their players’ tallies. The LTA’s grass-court warm-up events in Britain were also able to keep their ranking points, and the ITF has now clarified their decision regarding Estonia.
The Estonian Tennis Federation boss explained that the ITF events were allowed to keep their ranking points with tournaments of the same level taking place in other nations at the same time, giving alternative options for those who are banned from the country. Allar Hint told Delfi: “In the case of Parnu and other smaller tournaments, athletes have an alternative to play elsewhere. That’s one reason why the points remained.”
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Raducanu hires coach for US Open who ‘likes acting like an idiot’ Estonia is yet to confirm whether the ban will extend to the Tallinn Open, a WTA 250 event held in the final week of September. The WTA has been stricter in their views over countries and tournaments banning Russian and Belarusian players, and could sanction the Tallinn event for any ban, but Hint has claimed that they are working on a “solution”.
The WTA Tour removed Wimbledon’s ranking points to protect “the equal opportunities that WTA players should have to compete as individuals”, with the head of the women’s tour saying: “If we do not take this stance, then we abandon our fundamental principle and allow the WTA to become an example to support discrimination based on nationality at other events and in other regions around the world. The WTA will continue to apply its rules to reject such discrimination.”
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