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Following Wimbledon, Rome also called on to ban Russian, Belarusian players
The President of Italy’s National Olympic Committee would look to be the first individual tennis tournament to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes in the wake of Wimbledon’s announcement to do the same.
Published Apr 25, 2022
WATCH: Wimbledon officially banned Russian and Belarusian players from its tournament last week.
The Internazionali BNL d’Italia could find itself having to decide whether to allow Russian and Belarusian players to play the event, suggest comments from Italian NOC president Giovanni Malago.
Those comments follow Wimbledon's decision not to allow them to play the Championships, which will extend to all LTA-run grass-court events in Britain such as Queen's and Eastbourne.
While several sports are prohibiting athletes from those countries following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, other tennis events have not done so, though the ITF has banned the nations from team competition and Russian and Belarusian athletes are currently competing without their flags.
In an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere, Malago said that the Italian Tennis Federation, which runs the clay-court competition played next month, should follow the IOC's recommendation and ban Russian and Belarusian athletes.
"The [IOC] Executive Committee has recommended to all federation not to invite Russian, Belarusian athletes to tournaments and sporting events. Wimbledon, a private club, has followed the recommendation," he said. "All important federations... have been in accord and followed the IOC recommendation."
Italian Tennis Federation President Angelo Binaghi has indicated that he is against such a move, which is also opposed by the ATP and WTA Tours. The Rome Masters is a combined ATP and WTA event, where Wimbledon is an independent Grand Slam event run by the All England Club.
There is also the potential for the strong pro-Ukraine government of Mario Draghi to intervene, suggested Malago, which could force the issue. "It will be the decision of the government," he said.
Wimbledon's announcement had indicated that British government guidance, which imposed requirements on sporting competition allowing athletes from those countries, had prompted their decision.