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Ukrainian-born tennis player Eva Lys has accused some Russian players of mocking the war in Ukraine but argued that, while she supports the decision to ban Russian teams from international competition, individuals should not be excluded from tournaments.
The 20-year-old prospect, who was born in Kyiv and moved to Germany, told Eurosport in an interview on Wednesday that she felt Russian players had acted disrespectfully at ITF Kazakhstan 02A this week.
“Many Russian players who are here show disrespect to those affected by the Ukraine war. They laugh about it, make fun of it. Some are demonstratively putting on tracksuits in the Russian national colors,” she said, via The Telegraph’s translation.
Lys chose to show her support for her home country by wearing the colors of her flag during competition, something she said was looked down on.
“There were no verbal reactions to my outfit,” she told German newspaper Bild, “but you could feel the looks. The air is very thick.”
While several international sports federations have moved to ban Russia and Belarus from competitions, players themselves in some sports have also been banned. Lys believes the two should not be grouped together.
“Tennis professionals don’t embody a country in the same way that national teams do,” she said, via The Telegraph. “So I think it’s right to ban Russian teams to send a crystal clear message. And I think it’s good that you take out flags or the reference to Russia in tennis, but let the individual professionals play.”
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced Tuesday that the Russian Tennis Federation and Belarus Tennis Federation will be indefinitely suspended from international events as a result of the widespread attacks on Ukraine.
The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) followed suit, adding that the “safety of the tennis community is our most immediate collective priority.”