The Plight of Belarusian and Russian Tennis Stars for their UK Visas to Play at Wimbledon
If you thought that getting a visa was an easy process, think again. It seems like the road to Wimbledon is not so smooth sailing for some tennis players from Russia and Belarus, who are still awaiting approval of their visas by the British authorities.
Last year, these players were banned by the All England Club from participating in the tournament following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which was supported by Belarus. This year they can compete but only if they sign declarations indicating their neutrality.
Sixteen-year-old Mirra Andreeva from Russia may be eligible for a wildcard based on her impressive performance in Paris; however, she is yet to receive her visa even though she applied more than six weeks ago.
The Home Office stated that all applicants must undergo “thorough checks” before being granted permission to enter the UK. The government website also states it takes three weeks or longer to process an international sportsperson visa.
This has left many athletes uncertain about their participation in this world-renowned event. For instance, men’s world number two Daniil Medvedev expressed his doubts about competing at Wimbledon after losing in round one at Roland Garros when he said he would be “happy” if he could come to the UK for this grass-court Grand Slam event.
Tennis Stars Await Visa Approval
It seems that the road to Wimbledon is full of perplexities and discontinuities for Belarusian and Russian tennis stars. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the UK government put sanctions in place against the nation and its citizens, including visa-related measures.
This has resulted in a backlog of applications with many players still waiting for their visas to be approved or rejected so they can make travel arrangements to participate at this prestigious event.
The Impact on Tennis Players
The impact on these athletes could be significant as missing out on Wimbledon could harm their future prospects. For instance, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova from Russia who is through to the last eight at Roland Garros may miss out due to her current world ranking not being high enough.
It remains unclear how long it will take for these athletes’ visas to get issued; however, one thing is for sure – time is running out before this year’s tournament kicks off from July 3-16th.
In conclusion, it appears like Russian and Belarusian tennis players are facing complex challenges when trying to secure their UK visas ahead of playing at Wimbledon. Despite signing declarations indicating neutrality and undergoing thorough checks by British authorities before permission is granted, many players are still awaiting approval or rejection while others have received theirs after longer than usual processing times caused by increased demand during pandemic restrictions across Europe.
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