Russian tennis player denied entry to Czech Republic

Country’s Interior Ministry says a female athlete, due to take part in Prague Open, was sent back from airport

AFP July 29, 2023


An unnamed Russian tennis player, arriving to play in qualifying for the WTA Prague Open was refused entry, the Czech Republic Interior Ministry posted on Twitter on Friday.

The post said that police in Prague "checking a Russian citizen at the airport found reasons to end her temporary stay. She has already left the Czech Republic".

Czech officials added that no other Russian and Belarusian players would travel to the country "according to the information available".

Czech news agency CTK reported that three Russian players had been scheduled to take part in tournament qualifying this weekend.

Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich is entered in the main draw, which starts on Monday.

In June, in response to the invasion of Ukraine, the Czech government banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing on Czech territory.

The Czech National Sports Agency said in a press release that the government decision meant it was possible "to invalidate an individual visa in cases where the Russian or Belarussian sportsperson arrived in the Czech Republic from within the Schengen area without border controls".

The WTA said that the actions of the Czech authorities contravened their policy.

"Individual WTA players whose nationality is Russian/Belarusian continue to compete on the Tour on a neutral basis," said a WTA statement.

"Despite their neutrality, some WTA players are being denied by Czech government authorities the ability to compete at the WTA 250 event scheduled to be held in Prague next week.

"WTA rules state that all players must be allowed to compete on the WTA based solely on merit, without discrimination."

Last week, former world number two Russian Vera Zvonareva was denied entry into Warsaw for the Polish Open.

Russian Valeria Savinykh and three Belarusians, including Sasnovich, were allowed to take part in the Polish event.

Russian and Belarusian tennis players compete under a neutral flag on the main men's and women's tours.


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