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Rafael Nadal has joined the chorus of voices condemning the decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing at this year's Wimbledon competition.
The call was recently made by The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) following Russian president Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.
It's understood this barring of players from the prestigious tournament was a directive from the British government over fears the winner, who could end up being either Russian or Belarusian, would ultimately be handed the trophy by royal Kate Middleton.
And with Russian men's world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev and Belarusian women's world No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka in with a strong chance of winning, the decision has ultimately been met with a mixed reception.
One person who strongly disagrees with the call is recently-crowned Australian Open champion Nadal.
"I think it's very unfair to my Russian tennis mates, my colleagues. In that sense it's not their fault what's happening in this moment with the war," the Spaniard said at the Madrid Open.
"Let's see what happens in the next weeks, if the players will take some kind of decision... well, there is one thing that's negative, there are things that are clear. When the government imposes some restrictions, you just have to follow them."
Another tennis star leading the chorus of frustrated voices is Novak Djokovic.
"It's hard. I understand that there is frustration. ATP is going to, I guess, analyse the whole situation and understand what can be done," Djokovic said.
"I still stand by my position that I don't support the decision. I think it's just not fair, it's not right... now I guess it's on player council, the tour management, to really decide along with the players what is the best solution in this situation."
While there has been plenty of opposition to the verdict, the AELTC looks set to stand firm on their call.
If Russian and Belarusian players do end up getting excluded, then this year's 2022 Wimbledon will be the first time that competitors have been barred based on their nationality since post-World War Two when German and Japanese players were banned.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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