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Yulia Putintseva at the Billie Jean King Cup

Photo: Marcelo del Pozo / REUTERS

Tennis players do not have to fear sanctions if they take part in an exhibition competition in Russia. As the women's tennis organization WTA told the Reuters news agency, the players are free to participate in the tournament in St. Petersburg.

From 1 to 3 December, the second edition of the Northern Palmyra Trophies, sponsored by the Russian energy company Gazprom, will take place there outside the regular season. The event has no sporting value.

"This event is not affiliated with or endorsed by the WTA," the federation said. The ATP, the association responsible for the men's team, expressed a similar view. There would be no restrictions on players at the moment. Which events they participate in is up to the players, the ATP told Reuters.

Non-Russian players also present

Among the more prominent WTA players expected to compete in St. Petersburg is Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, who once reached the quarterfinals of the French Open and the US Open. The Russian world number 28. Anasassia Potapova is also there.

According to the organizers, around half of the participants come from Russia. But players from other countries are also participating, including Roberto Bautista Agut, Wimbledon semi-finalist four years ago, and Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

At last year's Grand Slam tournaments, Russian and Belarusian players were allowed to compete as "neutral athletes". In 2022, Wimbledon organizers even unconditionally excluded players from Russia and Belarus.

Since Russia's attack on Ukraine in February 2022, there has been repeated discussion about whether and under what conditions Russian and Belarusian athletes will be allowed to participate in international competitions. The International Olympic Committee recommended that athletes who do not actively support the war be allowed to return.

As the United Nations Human Rights Office announced last week, more than 10,000 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since the beginning of the war.