Suspension of Russian players from Wimbledon will backfire

permeating western institutions neo-McCarthyism takes truly ugly forms, writes the British edition The Spectator. According to the author of the article, the organizers of the boycott of Russian athletes are playing into the hands of Putin, proving that the West not so much supports Ukrainians as hates Russiansand that the ostensibly liberal West is full of hypocrisy.

We need to talk about Russophobia. Indeed, there is no other way to explain the speed with which Russian athletes and artists are kicked out of international competitions and festivals. For nothing less than the fact that they were born Russian. While all sane people are condemning Russia’s brutal, imperialist invasion of Ukraine, the neo-McCarthyism that is tearing apart various Western institutions is getting really ugly and, by all appearances, it will prove to be downright counterproductive.

Hot on the heels of FIFA, the most “morally impeccable” sports organization, that banned Russia from participating in the World Cup, Wimbledon organizers are now ready to announce a complete ban on Russian (and Belarusian) tennis players. It will be felt right at the top of the competition when world number two Daniil Medvedev and former world number one Victoria Azarenka are banned from the All England Club this summer. Wimbledon will be the first tennis tournament to receive such a sweeping ban. No doubt others will follow.

Perhaps the most frightening thing about all this is the behind-the-scenes involvement of the UK government. According to Times, there have been months of discussions between the All England Club and the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports. That being said, officials at one point argued that Russian players should only be allowed to compete if they made a private written statement promising not to express support for the invasion. Nigel Huddleston, Undersecretary of State for Sports, Tourism, Heritage and Civil Society, for the first time put forward this idea back in March.

Wimbledon apparently felt it had to make a choice – either ban the Russians altogether or ask them to agree to terms that would, in effect, set them and their families apart in the eyes of the increasingly totalitarian Russian state. He chose the first. But the concern is that this choice should be made at all. We, apparently, are no longer able to distinguish the Russian state from the Russian people. We punish athletes for the crimes of their government. We demand that they sign the denunciations. All in the name of protecting Western values! Someone from DCMS needs to pick up a history book.

The expulsion of Russians from international tournaments and Western cultural institutions quickly became a mass phenomenon. But it will first timewhen Wimbledon banned certain countries after World War II. Players from South Africa were allowed to compete during apartheid. Why are so many Western institutions today under the illusion that banning tennis players, soccer players or pianists Is this what it takes to change the course of a war or overthrow a despotic regime? There is something absurd and vile about these boycotts.

But they are worse than cruel and senseless. They polish Putin’s narrative that the West doesn’t support Ukrainians so much as hates Russians, and that the ostensibly liberal West is full of hypocrisy. If Wimbledon and the British government intended to prove him right, then mission accomplished.

Author Tom Slater / editor spiked.

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