Svitolina calls for global ban if Russian and Belarusian players fail to denounce Ukraine invasion

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Elina Svitolina has called for Russian and Belarusian players to be banned from all international tennis events unless they denounce the invasion in Ukraine.

The All England Club on Wednesday announced that players from Russia and Belarus will not be allowed to compete at Wimbledon due to the conflict in Ukraine.

Daniil Medvedev, Aryna Sabalenka, Victoria Azarenka and Andrey Rublev are among the household names that will not be allowed to compete in the grass-court grand slam, "unless circumstances change materially between now and June".

Russian and Belarusian players will also be prevented from entering all other events organised by the Lawn Tennis Association.

Two-time major semi-finalist and former world number three Svitolina believes a global ban should be imposed on players from Russia and Belarus if they do not speak out.

The Ukrainian former world number three posted on Twitter and Instagram: "Dear Tennis Community.

"Ginetta Sagan once said: 'Silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor.' This could not be any more true right now.

"On 24th February 2022, Russia, with the support of Belarus, attacked Ukraine. Now there is a war in our country, in our home. All Ukrainians are forced to leave their homes and fight for their lives. For over 50 days now, the Russian forces have been bombing our cities and killing civilians, as well as using the territory of Belarus to bomb Ukraine from the west and the north.

"Millions of people have been left homeless, millions of children now know what explosions, fear and death look like. It is all happening right now in the centre of Europe.

"As athletes we live a life in the public eye and therefore have an enormous responsibility. Some of our posts and opinions on social media reach an audience larger than those of regional television stations. In times of crisis, silence means agreeing with what is happening.

"We noticed that some Russian and Belarusian players at some point vaguely mentioned the war, but never clearly stating that Russia and Belarus started it on the territory of Ukraine. The very silence of those who choose to remain that way right now is unbearable as it leads to the continuation of murder in our homeland.

"We demand that the WTA, ATP and ITF make sure the players who represent Russia and Belarus answer the following questions:

"1. Do you support Russia's and Belarus invasion in Ukraine's territory and as a result of that the war started by those countries?

"2. Do you support Russia's and Belarus military activities in Ukraine?

"3. Do you support [Russian president Vladimir] Putin's and [Belarus president Alexander] Lukashenko's regime?

"If applicable, we demand to exclude and ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in any international event, as Wimbledon already [has] done. There come a time when silence is betrayal, and that time is now."

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