The best tennis players in the world are on the court of the French Open 2022the first Grand Slam since the Russian invasion of Ukraine started in February. Unlike Wimbledon 2022, the French Open decided to leave Russian and Belarusian players compete.
The French Open decision is in line with other tennis tournaments since the Russian invasion, which allowed Russian and Belarusian players to participate. This result may be partly due to the player reaction and world tennis governing body, the International Tennis Federation (ITF), after the All England Lawn and Tennis Club (AELTC) and the Lawn Tennis Association banned Russian and Belarusian players from participating in all UK tournaments on grass in 2022, including the third grand slam of the year, the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, England.
French Open organizers agreed that individual athletes from Russia and Belarus could compete without national flags or anthems. President of the French Tennis Federation Gilles Moreton said:
We align ourselves with the declaration of March 9, 2022 of all the sports ministries of the European Union and of the other signatory countries, which aims to impose on Russian and Belarusian athletes a regime of strict neutrality.
If Russian or Belarusian players show support for war, there will be sanctions, says French Open director Amelie Mauresmo.
Meanwhile, the Russian and Belarusian national teams have been banned by the ITF from international team competitions.
So far, the Parisian crowds have shown no animosity towards any of the Russian or Belarusian players. For example, the 2021 US Open champion, Russian Daniil Medvedev, received applause during his first round victory.
The International Tennis Federation’s response to the Wimbledon 2022 decision was to announce that players will not receive ranking points in any of the Wimbledon matches. This includes reigning Wimbledon men’s singles champion Novak Djokovic, who is expected to loses world number one rank to Medvedev on the basis that he cannot defend the 2000 ranking points he accumulated by winning the 2021 tournament.
politics in sports
Since the majority of countries do not want to use military force against Russia, sports bans are another method of pressure. This is effective for a variety of reasons, including restrictions on attending international events or hosting international events and the additional significant impact this has on tourism and aviation organizations in Russia.
Some think players are “shut up” makes them indirectly accomplices. But some, including men’s world number eight, Russia’s Andriy Rublev, have shown they are not in favor of wargarnering support from Russian and Belarusian players other players. Many players banned for the tournament, including Medvedev, Wimbledon 2021 semi-finalist Aryna Sabalenka, and two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, actually live in the UNITED STATES and Western Europe, in countries like monaco. They could endanger family members by criticizing the invasion of Ukraine.
In times of war where millions of civilians are displaced, should the career of every tennis player be taken into account collective good prevent innocent lives from being ruined? It is a key political, philosophical and moral point of view that depends on one’s perspective, which decides whether society should fight for the common good or for the rights of individuals. Wimbledon’s decision could ultimately limit the value of the 2022 competition due to diminishing field strength and a lack of ranking points on offer. What is clear is that the most effective way to implement a tournament rule is to ensure that all governing bodies of a sport make a joint decision, rather than tournaments making individual decisions that can lead to further discord.
Sport and politics have been intertwined for over 100 years – especially international events and mega events. Throughout modern history, countries have regularly used sporting events for their own propaganda purposes. Sporting events have sometimes created moments and messages that no other occasion can convey. When hosting major sporting events, powerful political messages are broadcast around the world.
In some situations, sport has been the only arena to convey political messages. This has sometimes been in positive ways, through acts of defiance or resistance, challenging gender stereotypes and uniting nations that have been in internal conflict. Black Power demonstrations by American athletes John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the Mexico Olympics 1968the successes of the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa shortly after the end of the apartheid era, and Cathy Freeman’s Gold Medal in the women’s 400m final at Sydney 2000, conveyed a symbolism that few other mediums could have achieved just as easily. It is obvious that since the banning of the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games for Russian athletes, several sports governing bodies and organizations do not want to showcase a nation on the sports scene while civilians are killed or moved by the Russian army.
The research explored boycotts of international events such as Moscow 1980 and the counter-boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Outside of South Africa during aside, boycott rarely lead to long term change. But maybe there is still a moral imperative to try.
Sports sanctions against Russia before and after the annexation of Crimea were not serious enough to have a real impact, and Russia was still allowed to host the FIFA World Cup 2018despite the global diplomatic boycott.
Often the sports world has been too myopic and forgiving too quickly.