Elina Svitolina calls out Russian and Belarusian players for ‘not supporting’ Ukraine

Elina Svitolina says she has been disappointed by what she perceives as a lack of support for Ukrainian players from their Russian and Belarusian counterparts.

Russia have been sanctioned by the world since beginning their aggressive invasion of Ukraine this year, with sports’ various governing bodies facing their own tough decisions.

For the ATP and WTA Tours, that amounted to allowing tennis players from Russia and allies Belarus to continue playing but only under a neutral flag.

Meanwhile, the players themselves are faced with the dilemma of what to say publicly about the events in Ukraine, particularly due to the threat of resulting state violence against them and their families back home.

That has seen players generally err on the side of caution and either say nothing at all or give very diplomatic answers to reports.

Svitolina, though, who hails from the City of Odesa which sits on the frontline of the fighting, has accused them of failing to go far enough in their support of her country.

Speaking to Reuters about her Russian and Belarusian colleagues on the tennis tours, Svitolina said: “For us it was not really understandable why we didn’t get support from them.

“I feel like it created tension between us.”

The one place from which Ukrainian players have received unwavering support is Wimbledon, with the Championships banning players from Russia and Belarus.

They have been stripped of the ranking points this year as a result, yet have still stood firm in their belief if it the correct thing to do.

The US Open have not followed suit and they have confirmed those players who are banned from Wimbledon will be allowed to play at Flushing Meadows, although Svitolina is unhappy about it.

“It’s their decision to make, they decided to take this path,” she said. “I don’t support it because I feel like they should have taken more serious action.

“Our (Ukraine’s) sports is thrown back by 10 years minimum because all the infrastructure has been damaged or completely destroyed.

“I can tell you many, many factors that can play a role in the decision of not letting Russian and Belarusian players compete.”

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