Wimbledon stripped of ranking points by ATP, WTA

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The women’s and men’s professional tennis tours will not award ranking points for Wimbledon this year because of the All England Club’s ban on players from Russia and Belarus over the invasion of Ukraine.

The WTA and ATP announced their unprecedented decisions Friday night, two days before the start of the French Open — and a little more than a month before play begins at Wimbledon on June 27.

It is a significant rebuke of the sport’s oldest Grand Slam tournament and, in a technical sense, renders the event an exhibition without any ranking points at stake.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

The All England Club said in April it would not allow Russians or Belarusians to compete at its grass-court championship, which drew immediate criticism from the WTA and the ATP, along with some prominent players, such as defending champion Novak Djokovic.

Russian athletes have been prevented from competing in many sports, including soccer’s World Cup qualifying playoffs, since the country began attacking Ukraine in February. Belarus has aided Russia in the invasion.

“The ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination, is fundamental to our tour,” the ATP said in a statement. “The decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the U.K. this summer undermines this principle and the integrity of the ATP ranking system.”

Saying it made this move “with great regret and reluctance,” the ATP added: “Our rules and agreements exist in order to protect the rights of players as a whole. Unilateral decisions of this nature, if unaddressed, set a damaging precedent for the rest of the tour. Discrimination by individual tournaments is simply not viable on a tour that operates in more than 30 countries.”

A statement attributed to WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon and released by that tour Friday said, in part: “Nearly 50 years ago, the WTA was founded on the fundamental principle that all players have an equal opportunity to compete based on merit and without discrimination. The WTA believes that individual athletes participating in an individual sport should not be penalized or prevented from competing solely because of their nationalities or the decisions made by the governments of their countries.”

The All England Club later responded with “deep disappointment.”

“We remain unwilling to accept success or participation at Wimbledon being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime, which, through its closely controlled State media, has an acknowledged history of using sporting success to support a triumphant narrative to the Russian people,” the club said in a statement. “We therefore wish to state our deep disappointment at the decisions taken by the ATP, WTA and ITF in removing ranking points for The Championships. We believe these decisions to be disproportionate in the context of the exceptional and extreme circumstances of this situation and the position we found ourselves in, and damaging to all players who compete on Tour.”

The International Tennis Federation said Friday that it would not grant its ranking points for the junior and wheelchair events at Wimbledon this year, explaining that “tournament organizers are not permitted to unilaterally impose entry criteria.”

Among the prominent players affected by the Wimbledon ban are reigning U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev, who recently reached No. 1 in the rankings and is currently No. 2; men’s No. 7 Andrey Rublev; women’s No. 7 Aryna Sabalenka, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year; and Victoria Azarenka, a former No. 1 who has won the Australian Open twice.

Medvedev and Rublev are from Russia; Sabalenka and Azarenka are from Belarus.

They are all eligible to compete in Paris, and Medvedev deflected questions about the topic of Wimbledon’s Russia policy on Friday.

“Right now I’m focused on Roland Garros,” he said at a pre-tournament news conference. “I’m here.”

When a reporter raised the possibility of legal action against the All England Club, perhaps via the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Medvedev said: “Me personally, I won’t go to court.”

The U.S. Tennis Association, which runs the U.S. Open, has not made a decision about players from Russia and Belarus; that tournament starts Aug. 29.

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Eliud Kipchoge, two races shy of his target, to make Boston Marathon debut

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World record holder Eliud Kipchoge will race the Boston Marathon for the first time on April 17.

Kipchoge, who at September’s Berlin Marathon lowered his world record by 30 seconds to 2:01:09, has won four of the six annual major marathons — Berlin, Tokyo, London and Chicago.

The 38-year-old Kenyan has never raced Boston, the world’s oldest annual marathon dating to 1897, nor New York City but has repeated in recent years a desire to enter both of them.

Typically, he has run the London Marathon in the spring and the Berlin Marathon in the fall.

Kipchoge’s last race in the U.S. was the 2014 Chicago Marathon, his second of 10 consecutive marathon victories from 2014 through 2019.

He can become the first reigning men’s marathon world record holder to finish the Boston Marathon since South Korean Suh Yun-Bok set a world record of 2:25:39 in Boston in 1947, according to the Boston Athletic Association.

In 2024 in Paris, Kipchoge is expected to race the Olympic marathon and bid to become the first person to win three gold medals in that event.

The Boston Marathon field also includes arguably the second- and third-best men in the world right now — Kipchoge’s Kenyan training partners Evans Chebet and Benson Kipruto. Chebet won Boston and New York City this year. Kipruto won Boston last year and Chicago this year.

American Des Linden, who won Boston in 2018, headlines the women’s field.

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2024 Tour de France to end with Nice time trial due to Paris Olympics

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The 2024 Tour de France will end on the French Riviera instead of the French capital because of the Paris Olympics.

The finish of cycling’s marquee race leaves Paris for the first time since 1905.

Tour organizers said on Thursday the last stage of its 111th race will take place in the Mediterranean resort of Nice on July 21. Five days later, Paris opens the Olympics.

Because of security and logistical reasons, the French capital won’t have its traditional Tour finish on the Champs-Elysees. Parting with tradition of a sprint on the Champs-Elysees, the last stage will be an individual time trial along Nice’s famed Promenade des Anglais.

The start of the 2024 race, which will begin for the first time in Italy, was brought forward by one week, a customary change during an Olympic year. The Tour will start on June 29 in Florence.

Nice has hosted the Tour 37 times, including its start twice, in 1981 and in 2020. Two years ago, the start was delayed until Aug. 29 due to lockdowns and travels bans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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