Estonia Bans Russian, Belarussian Tennis Players From Tour Events - UBITENNIS
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Estonia Bans Russian, Belarussian Tennis Players From Tour Events

The move comes less than two months before the country is set to host a WTA 250 tournament.

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The International Tennis Federation has informed some players that they will not be allowed to play tournaments in Estonia following a decision by the country’s authorities.

Estonia will host two ITF events during the first half of August in the city of Parnu. During the first week of that month, a men’s Futures tournament will take place followed by a women’s W25 the week after. However, Russian and Belarussian players are banned from competing as a result of the Ukraine war. Russia launched a military assault against Ukraine on February 24th and Belarus is suspected of supporting them.

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, the Estonian Acting Minister of Culture, said in a statement published by championat.ru.

It is not the first time players have been banned from tournaments. The British LTA and Wimbledon also implemented a ban based on advice issued to them by their government. That move prompted anger from the ATP and WTA Tour who removed the awarding of points from Wimbledon in protest.

“Well, what’s new here? Banned and banned. It’s not from a great mind,” Russian Tennis president Shamil Tarpischev told RIA Novosti Sport when asked about Estonia’s ban.

Allar Hint is the general secretary of the Estonian Tennis Federation. During an interview with Delfi.ee, he said that points will be allowed at the ITF events because they are taking place under different circumstances.

“In the case of Pärnu and other smaller tournaments, athletes have an alternative to play elsewhere. That’s one reason why the points remained,” he explained.

Estonia has been a vocal critic of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, which has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people. The country has previously slapped entry bans on some Russian artists which triggered an angry response. An official spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called the country a ‘dictatorship.’

It remains to be seen how this ruling placed on players will affect the upcoming Tallinn Open, which is a WTA 250 event. The WTA is a separate governing body to that of the ITF and therefore could potentially implement a penalty. In their statement regarding the Wimbledon ban, the WTA said they will not abandon their ‘fundamental principle’ of protecting players from being discriminated against due to their nationality.

“The stance we are taking is about protecting the equal opportunities that WTA players should have to compete as individuals,” the statement reads.
“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.”

Tennis chief Hint says there is ongoing work to find a ‘solution’ for the event without elaborating further.

The Tallinn Open will begin on September 26th.

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