Indian Wells, for Popatova a "formal warning": from the tennis player, she supports Russia with a T-shirt

Indian Wells, for Popatova a "formal warning": from the tennis player, she supports Russia with a T-shirt

A "formal warning" to the Russian tennis player Anastasia Popatova for wearing a shirt of the football team on the field Spartak Moscow: the stance of the Wta against one of his players is only the latest episode of a battle of nerves that athletes, federations and politics have been carrying on for months. Amidst protests, provocations and possible boycotts, the world of sport faces the issue of the war in Ukraine, not without difficulty and embarrassment.

Tsurenko and the refusal to challenge Sabalenka

In the background, in just under 500 days, there are the Paris Games 2024: a problem for the IOC to solve. Thanks to the other number of athletes from the countries most directly involved in the conflict, the tennis it is the discipline that suffers more than others the reflections of the Russian invasion. Just a few days ago the ukraine Lesia Tsurenko she withdrew from the tournament by Indian Wells before facing the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka: a forfeit initially archived with a generic "personal reasons" but which, later, the same athlete who lives in Kiev defined as a "crisis of panic" linked to the conflict. Tsurenko was psychologically affected by an interview with the CEO of the WTA, SteveSimon, during which the federation manager "expressed confidence that Russians and Belarusians will return to the Olympics and affirmed that it will happen exactly as it is happening now in tennis". The reference is to the possibility for athletes from Moscow and Minsk to play Wimbledonafter last year's exclusion.

Indian Wells, Ukrainian tennis player in panic crisis retires: "Shocked by the words of the WTA chief"

by our correspondent Paolo Rossi

Svitolina: "Russians and Belarusians must not play"

Another Ukrainian tennis player, Elina Svitolinaattacked the ATP, WTA and ITF: "The war has brought Ukrainian players closer together. And we all agree that it is not right for Russians and Belarusians to continue playing", he declared in an interview with Daily Mail. In this climate, Popatova's decision to wear the Spartak Moscow shirt at Indian Wells was seen as a provocation and the justifications of the Russian tennis player herself who said she only wore it because she was a fan of the Moscow team were of little use. Indeed, the criticisms of the number one in the world ranking, the Polish, have come to increase the dose Iga Swiatek, who said she was "surprised" by that t-shirt. Since last year, Russian and Belarusian players cannot play under national banners and are asked to avoid references related to the conflict. Paris 2024 is just under 500 days away but a long and, certainly, bumpy journey lies ahead.

Popatova with Spartak Moscow shirt

Popatova with Spartak Moscow shirt

One example is the Women's Boxing World Cup which kicked off in New Delhi and turned into a general rehearsal of crossed vetoes and boycotts. Many nations - led by the Baltic countries but also by the USA, Great Britain and Canada - have decided not to participate to protest against the presence of Russian and Belarusian athletes. The International Boxing Association, chaired by the Russian Umar Kremlev, has allowed these athletes to participate, although most international federations have banned them. In the end, 65 nations are participating in the demonstration, including Italy. In addition to boxing, for all of world sport, it is a good deal in the hands of the IOC which is grappling with the most complex of decisions: to involve Russia And Belarus at the Olympics, risking a boycott of Ukraine, Great Britain and the Baltic countries; or place restrictions on Russians and Belarusians with the possibility that these countries will instead lead the boycott of Paris 2024.

Boxing, the war is in the ring at the Women's World Cup. Italy fights with Russia and Belarus

by Luigi Panella

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