Svitolina refusing to play Russian and Belarusian players


Elina Svitolina will refuse to play Russian or Belarusian players unless tennis’ governing bodies have them compete as neutral athletes in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The world number 15 has already committed to donating all of her prize money to Ukrainian military and humanitarian efforts.

She has now been drawn against Russia’s Anastasia Potapova in the first round of the Monterrey Open.

In a post on Twitter, Svitolina announced she would not contest that match or any other against players from Russia or Belarus.

Svitolina said however she could play if the ATP, WTA and ITF follow the recommendation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and remove any reference to their national identities.

Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine last Thursday, with neighbouring Belarus effectively used as a staging post for Russian military.

Svitolina wrote: “I believe the current situation requires a clear position from our organisations: ATP, WTA and ITF.

“As such, we —- Ukrainian players —- requested ATP, WTA and ITF to follow the recommendations of the IOC to accept Russian or Belarusian nationals only as neutral athletes, without displaying any national symbols, colours, flags or anthems.

“Accordingly, I want to announce that I will not play tomorrow [Tuesday] in Monterrey, nor any other match against Russian or Belarusian tennis players until our organisations take this necessary decision.”

Svitolina saluted the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Russian players who have all spoken out against the war.

She added: “I do not blame any of the Russian athletes. They are not responsible for the invasion of our motherland.

“Moreover, I wish to pay tribute to all the players, especially Russians and Belarusians, who bravely stated their position against the war. Their support is essential.”

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