Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina is demanding the WTA, ATP and ITF ask Russian and Belarusian tennis players a series of questions before allowing them to compete in any future tennis events.
Svitolina, who has been vocal about the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict and sidelined herself from competition in March, described in a social media post on Wednesday that it’s time for those athletes to come forward with their stance on the crisis.
The 27-year-old said she was taking a break physically due to back pain she was experiencing and mentally from "observing with unbearable pain in my heart what is happening in my homeland Ukraine."
In the statement, she said that athletes "live a life in the public eye and therefore have an enormous responsibility."
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She went on to urge that athletes can make huge impacts via social media, reaching large audiences with their opinions. "In times of crisis, silence means agreeing with what is happening," she added.
Since the crisis started two months ago, the various tennis associations took action by removing Russian-Ukraine affiliation with each tennis player. This motion was sparked by Svitolina, who was scheduled to compete against Russian Anastasia Potapova in Monterrey and refused to step foot on the court with her.
"We noticed that some Russian and Belarusian players at some point vaguely mentioned the war, but never clearly stating that Russia and Belarus started it on the territory of Ukraine," Svitolina continued in the post.
Accordingly, Svitlana listed three questions that she urges the tennis associations ask each Russian and Belarusian tennis player:
"1. Do you support Russia's and Belarus invasion in Ukraine's territory and as a result of that the war started by those countries?"
"2. Do you support Russia's and Belarus military activities in Ukraine?"
"3. Do you support Putin's and Lukashenko's regime?"
"If applicable, we demand to exclude and ban Russia and Belarusian athletes from competing in any international event, as Wimbledon already done."
The exclusion of tennis players in the top-50 include: No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka, No. 15. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, No. 18 Victoria Azarenka, No. 26 Daria Kasatkina, No. 29 Veronika Kudermetova, No. 31 Liudmila Samonova, No. 30 Ekaterina Alexandrova and No. 50 Aliaksandra Sasnovich on the women's side.
On the men's side, it includes: No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, No. 8 Andrey Rublev, No. 26 Karen Khachanov, No. 30 Aslan Karatsev and No. 44 Ilya Ivashka.
So far, none of these tennis players have publicly reacted to the post.
“There comes a time when silence is betrayal, and the time is now," Svitlona concluded in her statement.