The ATP fined Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association $1 million for its ban of male players from Russia and Belarus this year.
The ban was instituted after Russia invaded Ukraine and Belarus stood in support. Men from those countries were not allowed to play in pro grass-court tournaments ahead of Wimbledon.
The association issued a statement Wednesday in response to the fine.
“The LTA is deeply disappointed with this,” read the statement, as published by Reuters. “The ATP, in its finding, has shown no recognition of the exceptional circumstances created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, or the international sporting community and UK Government’s response to that invasion.
“The ATP appear to regard this matter as a straightforward breach of their rules — with a surprising lack of empathy shown for the situation in Ukraine, and a clear lack of understanding of the unique circumstances the LTA faced.”
A United Kingdom official also criticized the ATP Tour.
“The UK has taken a world-leading role to build this international response,” said Michelle Donelan, the culture secretary, per Reuters. “We are clear that sport cannot be used to legitimize this deadly invasion, and that athletes representing the Russian or Belarusian states should be banned from competing in other countries.
“Despite widespread condemnation, the international tennis tours are determined to be outcasts in this, with investment in the growth of our domestic game hampered as a result.”
Earlier this year, the LTA was slapped with a fine of about $750,000 for barring female players from the two countries. The fine is under appeal.
The LTA said the two fines will take money away from planned tournaments that could boost lesser players.
“We had intended to host a number of ATP Challenger level events to give more opportunities to lower ranked players in the first quarter of 2023 and will now not be able to do this, particularly given the possibility of further fines,” the LTA statement said.
–Field Level Media