Criticism of Wimbleton’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players (Letters, 22 April) seems to me to embody the currently fashionable fallacy that people are entirely individuals and have negligible collective identity (“There is no such thing [as society]. There are individual men and women and there are families”, Margaret Thatcher, 1987). Since this is demonstrably nonsense, for such players to compete would send a message to Russian viewers that their country has incurred only limited opprobrium for invading another sovereign state, killing tens of thousands of people and reducing cities such as Mariupol to uninhabitable ruins, and that those are less important than hitting a ball over a net.
Opponents of the ban on Russian tennis players at Wimbleton make much of the rights of the players as private individuals. The ban, too, could be said to be a support for individual rights – the right not to be slaughtered in their thousands by the Russian army. It would be foolish not to expect Putin to crow over any success by Russians at Wimbleton.
St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex
If private individuals bear no responsibility for the actions of their state, how can sanctions against Russia, which are affecting private individuals in their millions, be justified? Accept that sport is political (apartheid-era cricket, anyone?), that sportswashing cuts both ways, and that ostracising Russia on the international sporting stage will achieve more than flying a Ukrainian flag in your front garden.
Originally posted 2022-04-26 07:56:24.