'A message of unity has to be sent': Andrew Castle breaks silence on Wimbledon Russia ban

23 April 2022, 09:59

By Emma Soteriou

Andrew Castle has broken his silence over Wimbledon's decision to ban Russian and Belarusian tennis players in the upcoming tournament this year.

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It was announced earlier in the week that Russian and Belarusian tennis stars would not be allowed to compete, in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking about the players affected, Andrew said: "They're being discriminated against and I say that's ok.

"I say that's ok because of the scenes I watch unfold in Mariupol and Melitopol and Odessa.

"People are dying - in Mariupol right now they are starving to death. Mass graves are being dug.

"What is it going to take for us to realise that this is not going to stop unless we are all united across creative arts, sport, industry, business, military...everybody.

"This is out of proportion to anything that we have seen - probably in our lifetime - and may we never see it again.

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He went on to say: "I know it's not Medvedev's fault and Rublev and Sabalenka and Azarenka and Pavlyuchenkova - I know it's not their fault and I know that they're good people - but don't we need to sanction Russian people?

"We're all affected by this, so why should they not be affected for the actions of their government?"

"Why should Ukrainians be starving to death, orphaned and raped?

"You say it's unfair, the governing body of the ATP (the men's tour) and the WTA (the women's tour) say it's unfair, it's discrimination, it's wrong."

"I'll give you wrong and unfair: what's taking place in Ukraine.

"A message has to be sent - a message of unity."

It came after Andrew spoke to former British ambassador to Russia Tony Brenton, who said he found the decision "almost racist".

"I'm dead against it. It's illiberal and almost racist," he said.

"The measure of any action which you might think about is does it assist getting the right people to win in Ukraine?

"The clear answer to that question with regard to these sorts of bans is simply no because it reinforces the Russian people's feeling that the whole world is against them and that they have to stick with Putin in order to maintain their national pride and and integrity."