Tennis-British LTA events to go ahead without Russians and Belarusians - ATP

(Reuters) -Tennis tournaments in Britain in the run-up to Wimbledon will go ahead as scheduled with full ranking points on offer despite a ban on Russian and Belarusian players, the men's tennis governing body ATP said on Monday.

The ATP Board said it had not yet made a decision on Wimbledon after the grasscourt Grand Slam became the first tennis tournament to ban individual competitors from the two countries last month.

The players were banned following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a "special military operation". Belarus has been a key staging area for the invasion.

The tune-up tournaments are organised by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), which said it was united with Wimbledon organisers, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), in banning Russian and Belarusian players at its events.

"Following extensive consultation with the Player Council and Tournament Council, the ATP Board has today confirmed that this season's ATP Tour events in Queen's and Eastbourne will proceed as normal, offering full ATP rankings points," the ATP said.

"LTA's decision to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes is however contrary to ATP rules and undermines the ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination – a fundamental principle of the ATP Tour.

"Sanctions related to LTA's violation of ATP rules will now be assessed separately under ATP governance. ATP's response to Wimbledon's decision remains under review, with more to be communicated in due course."

The ban will not allow players such as Russia's world number two Daniil Medvedev to take part in any events on British soil.

Wimbledon is scheduled for June 27-July 10.

The LTA and women's tennis body (WTA) did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Last month, both the ATP and the WTA had denounced the AELTC and LTA's decision as "discriminatory". Steve Simon, the women's tour chief, warned of "strong reactions" and said "fines and tournament sanctions" could be imposed.

The ban had also been slammed by top players such as 21-times Grand Slam champion Rafa Nadal who labelled it 'unfair' while world number one Novak Djokovic said he did not support the decision.

AELTC chairman Ian Hewitt defended the ban, saying it was the "most responsible decision possible in the circumstances".

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris and Pritha Sarkar)

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