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OPINION | EDITORIAL: The sins of others

Some things aren’t at all fair, but . . . . April 26, 2022 at 4:30 a.m.


Those who follow the Sports section know that the Brits have their own way of doing things, and describing their own. They don't play/sponsor/hype The British Open for golfers. For them, it's just The Open. And if the Americans want to call one of their golf tournaments The U.S. Open, and the continent wants The French Open, then they can have the added description(s). For they necessarily can't be the real Open. (Sniff.)

And our friends the Brits call the biggest tennis event of the year simply The Championships. When the All England Lawn Tennis Club hosts its most prestigious event--The Championships, Wimbledon--they don't have to add anything after the comma. (Double sniff.)

Something about all that, we like. In sports, most fans don't have a problem with cocky. Or as the Brits might put it, cheeky.

Wimbledon, er, "The Championships" will be played next month. Some of us enjoy the grass court, as long as it might last during the tournament. But the event this year has made the news even before players arrive for practice. And made the news for political reasons.

Wimbledon organizers have announced that Russian and Belarusian players will not be allowed to participate this year. You guessed why: the Russian invasion of Ukraine, aka Putin's War.

"Given the profile of The Championships in the United Kingdom and around the world, it is our responsibility to play our part in the widespread efforts of Government, industry, sporting and creative institutions to limit Russia's global influence through the strongest means possible," the tennis club said in a statement.

"In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with The Championships.

"It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022."

At least one tennis star in Russia says that's not fair. Because of Andrey Rublev's standing in the world of tennis, you might think that state media in Russia might even report this story. Although maybe not. A few days after the invasion of Ukraine, he wrote "No war please" on a camera during a match. That he's still giving interviews is remarkable enough.

"The things that happen now," he said, "is complete discrimination of us." We understand what he means after translation.

That is: It ain't fair.

Another tennis player--this one a whole lot more recognizable--has called the ban against Russian players "crazy." Novak Djokovic, a 20-time grand slam winner and No. 1-ranked player in the world, spoke at the Serbia Open.

"I know how much emotional trauma it leaves," he said, according to CNN. "In Serbia, we all know what happened in 1999. In the Balkans, we have had many wars in recent history.

"However, I cannot support the decision of Wimbledon. I think it is crazy. When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good."

Actually, politics interferes with sports a lot. From kneeling NFL players to Olympic boycotts to basketball players criticizing Red China, politics often finds its way into the Sports Section.

It's not crazy. But we can't say it's fair, either. These tennis players didn't order the destruction of Mariupol or the shelling of hospitals.

Then again, life isn't fair. And we tend to agree with the All England Lawn Tennis Club. This ban, while it might not accomplish much on the battlefield, may make for a PR headache for Moscow. Which is all that a tennis club can do.

"At the end of the day, we want to compete," Rublev said. "We are not here to talk about politics because I have no idea, anything about this."

Maybe that is part of the point. We understand there are many Russians who "have no idea, anything about this" war of aggression against the people of Ukraine. Maybe keeping Russians and Belarusians out of the tournament will help, perhaps, spread the news. Maybe if a couple of Russian tennis stars have to explain why they aren't in Wimbledon in a few weeks, or maybe if somebody on Russian TV has to explain it, the word will better get out that most of the world is lined up against Putin's War. And the reasons why.

This may be "complete discrimination of us," as Mr. Rublev put it. Then again . . . .

War is hell.


Print Headline: The sins of others

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