Tennis: Ukraine’s Svitolina agrees to play Russian Potapova after reversing boycott

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Ukraine tennis star Elina Svitolina had agreed to play Russian Anastasia Potapova after reversing the boycott – with opponent competing under a neutral flag at the Monterrey Open.

Earlier, Svitolina had insisted she would not play her Round-of-32 match unless tennis’ governing bodies followed the recommendations made by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

An emotional Svitolina told ITV News that she would now play with the Russian opponent, wearing the Ukrainian national colours.

The winner of the Olympic bronze medal in the women’s singles tournament at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics said, “I’m going to play in the Ukrainian national colours because normally we are playing at the Olympics and for our national team in Ukrainian colours but today I’m going to wear Ukrainian colours and for me, this means a lot — it’s going to be a special night for me.”

“We Ukrainian players requested to ATP, WTA, and ITF to follow the recommendations of the IOC to accept Russian or Belarusian nationals only as neutral athletes, without displaying any national symbols, colours, flags or anthems,” Svitolina was quoted as saying by dailymail.com

“Accordingly, I want to announce that I will not play tomorrow in Monterrey, nor any other match against Russian or Belarusian tennis players until our organisations take this necessary decision,” she added.

However, she later reversed her decision and the match between the two players will be played on March 2.

In a separate but similar statement earlier on Monday, Ukrainian women’s tennis players including Marta Kostyuk and Lesia Tsurenko called on the WTA to pull all tournaments from Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

Athletes from Ukraine and other nations have urged international bodies to take action after Russia launched its invasion by land, air and sea last week following a declaration of war by president Vladimir Putin.

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