US Open Won't Ban Russian or Belarusian Players After Wimbledon Decision

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 14, 2022

'S-HERTOGENBOSCH, NETHERLANDS - JUNE 10: Daniil Medvedev of Russia celebrates a point during the Men's Singles Quarter Finals match against Ilya Ivashka of Belarus during Day 5 of the Libema Open Grass Court Championships at the Autotron on June 10, 2022 in 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands (Photo by Rene Nijhuis/BSR Agency/Getty Images)
Rene Nijhuis/BSR Agency/Getty Images

The USTA announced Tuesday it will allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to enter the 2022 U.S. Open under a neutral flag amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The association said it "continues to condemn the unprovoked and unjust invasion of Ukraine by Russia." However, it won't go as far as Wimbledon by banning players from Russia and Belarus.

The April decision by the All England Club means the new No. 1 men's player in the world, Daniil Medvedev, won't be around to seek his first quarterfinal appearance in the Grand Slam.

While multiple international governing bodies reacted to the Russian invasion by indirectly punishing Russian and Belarusian athletes, the Wimbledon ban was viewed by some as unnecessarily punitive. Novak Djokovic called it "crazy," and neither the ATP Tour nor the WTA was in favor.

Outside of the Billie Jean King Cup, Davis Cup, ATP Cup and Laver Cup, players typically aren't playing for their home countries during ATP and WTA tournaments.

Per the Associated Press' Howard Fendrich, the USTA expressed a level of “concern about holding the individual athletes accountable for the actions and decisions of their governments.”

USTA CEO and Executive Director Lew Sherr also provided Fendrich with the organization's rationale for keeping the door open for Russian and Belarusian players:

"Our discussion was really on the merits and really the principles around both sides of this argument. This was not a commercial versus an ethical question. There are arguments on both sides. Are you being perceived as supporting atrocious acts by a government? And at the same time: Would you hold an individual athlete accountable for that?"

The main draws for the U.S. Open will begin Aug. 29 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.