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Police Sent the Russian Tennis Player Home From the Airport. She Was Heading to a Tournament in Prague

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Prague is gearing up for the Livesport Prague Open tennis tournament, but the event has already faced controversy as Russian and Belarusian female athletes have been barred from attending. At Prague’s Václav Havel Airport, the Inspectorate of Foreigners Police prevented the arrival of a Russian tennis player who was set to participate in the tournament. The player’s temporary stay was terminated due to undisclosed reasons, leading her to leave the country. The Interior Ministry refrained from disclosing the athlete’s name.

The tournament director, Miroslav Maly, confirmed that other female tennis players from Russia and Belarus will not be participating either. This decision follows a government decree prohibiting Russian athletes and teams from taking part in competitions and matches on Czech territory. The move comes amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, with the Czech government opting to avoid competing with Russian athletes in light of the situation.

The intention of Russian and Belarusian players to participate in the Livesport Prague Open became evident in early July when the WTA published the list of registered players. Organizers had already engaged in discussions with authorities at that time, aligning with the Czech government’s recent ban on the involvement of Russian athletes in sporting events within the country.

The refusal to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes in sports competitions has been advocated by Dominik Hašek, a former hockey goalkeeper, who believes their participation would promote the conflict in Ukraine.

The issue of excluding Russian and Belarusian athletes from sports events has been a longstanding debate, especially concerning the upcoming Olympics. Since April, the Ukrainian government has pursued a policy of boycotting national team competitions involving athletes from Russia and Belarus.

However, the Ukrainian government has recently signaled a change in its approach. Ukraine will no longer prevent its athletes from competing alongside neutral Russian competitors, even if they are not competing under their national flags. Just hours after this decision, Ukraine’s Olha Kharlanova, a four-time Olympic medalist, faced a neutral Russian opponent at the World Fencing Championships. Although she emerged victorious, Kharlanova was later disqualified for refusing to shake hands with her Russian rival.

Meanwhile, the issue of Russian soprano Anna Netrebko’s concert in Prague has also stirred controversy. The city’s leadership is advocating for the concert’s cancellation due to Netrebko’s past support for Russian President Putin and her presence on Ukraine’s sanctions list this year. Despite her later denouncement of the war, protests accompany her concerts worldwide.

The concert, scheduled for October at Prague’s Municipal House, is organized by the Nachtigall Artists agency, which has announced its intent to seek financial compensation from the city should the event be canceled. The agency claims that 80 percent of the tickets have already been sold.

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