This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
The U.S. Open will allow tennis players from Russia and Belarus to compete in the 2022 tournament in New York City later this year.
The U.S. Open announced the decision on June 14, saying Russian and Belarusian players will have to compete under a neutral flag.
The move comes after Wimbledon, the third grand-slam tournament of the year, became the first to ban Russian and Belarusian players in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The decision in April by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), which runs Wimbledon, has been criticized by the world governing body for men’s professional tennis as being unfair.
Russians Daniil Medvedev, the current world No. 1, and Andrey Rublev, ranked eighth, are barred from participating in the tournament, which starts on June 27 in London. In the women’s draw, two-time grand-slam winner Victoria Azarenka, ranked 19th in the world, and Aryna Sabalenka, ranked fifth, are barred from playing. Both players are from Belarus.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA), which runs the U.S. Open, “has previously condemned, and continues to condemn, the unprovoked and unjust invasion of Ukraine by Russia,” the USTA said in a news release.
The USTA supports the ban against the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in international team competitions implemented by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the organization said.
It also supports the ITF’s directive for players from Russia and Belarus to play under a neutral flag when competing outside of international team competitions.
“We recognize that each organization has had to deal with unique circumstances that affect their decisions,” the USTA said. “Based on our own circumstances, the USTA will allow all eligible players, regardless of nationality, to compete at the 2022 U.S. Open.”
The USTA will introduce a broad set of initiatives to amplify existing Ukrainian humanitarian efforts, the USTA said. It also will work with the players and both the men’s and the women’s tours to use the U.S. Open, which is scheduled to begin on August 29, as a platform to further a humanitarian program known as Tennis Plays for Peace.