The French Open tennis tournament has warned Russian players not to make political statements in support of President Vladimir Putin if they wish to take part in the grand slam.
Unlike Wimbledon, where they will be banned altogether, Russian and Belarusian players will be allowed to compete at Roland-Garros, but only under strictly neutral status.
However, Russian stars have been cautioned that they will face sanctions if they express anything other than pro-Ukraine opinions in the media in the run up to the event.
Roland-Garros Tournament Director Amelie Mauresmo made the tournament organizer’s position clear in a statement given to the press.
“We keep the line of what all the European governments – and other governments – decided in March, i.e. national teams of Russia and Belarus banned, but not the athletes as individuals, as long as they play under strict neutrality,” said Mauresmo.
“We will be very meticulous on that,” Mauresmo vowed. “[But] if any of them should have pro-Putin statements in the media, there will be sanctions for sure,” he added.
This obviously sets a dangerous precedent in terms of the free speech of prominent public figures.
Today, they’re mandated to support the NATO-aligned narrative about the Ukraine to be able to properly pursue their careers.
Next year, it could be something completely different, and indeed it was when Novak Djokavic was punished by Australian authorities for refusing to take a COVID-19 vaccine.
Who knows – sports athletes, actors, musicians could all in future be forced to sign up to some kind of ideological purity test that codifies their inability to challenge regime narratives lest they be hit with instant cancellation and career suicide.
As we highlighted last month, Ukrainian tennis star Elina Svitolina demanded that Russian and Belarusian players be subjected to ideological purity tests before they are allowed to compete in international tournaments.
Before Wimbledon slapped a total ban on all Russian players, then world number one Daniil Medvedev was told he would have to publicly denounce Vladimir Putin to be able to compete.