Jasmine Paolini pulls out of Russia tennis exhibition amid criticism over endorsement of country in the middle of Ukraine conflict
Italian tennis player Jasmine Paolini has pulled out of the Northern Palmyra Trophies tournament scheduled to be held between December 1-3 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The exhibition event's second edition is set to take place amidst the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Formula Tennis Hockey LLC will be the chief organizer of the tournament while Gazprom, Russia's state-run energy corporation, has decided to sponsor it.
Jasmine Paolini was among the probables to compete at the event. The other players participating in the tournament include Karen Khachanov, Veronika Kudermetova, Anastasia Potapova, Diana Shnaider, and Alexander Shevchenko from the host country.
Laslo Djere and Dusan Lajovic from Serbia, and Yulia Putintseva and Alexander Bublik from Kazakhstan are set to make an appearance at the tennis event, as are Roberto Bautista Agut from Spain and Viktoriya Tomova from Bulgaria.
As expected, the event and participating players faced flak from fans on social media for their endorsement of Russian sports while the country continues to wage war on Ukraine.
Amid all the criticism, Paolini decided to withdraw her name from the draw. As per a chat screenshot doing rounds on social media, the Italian revealed she will not be heading to Russia.
Later, the Northern Palmyra Trophies tournament officially announced that Paolini wouldn't play at the event due to an injury.
"Italian Jasmine Paolini, ranked 30th in the WTA rankings, will not come to the second international tennis tournament 'Northern Palmyra Trophies' in St. Petersburg. During training, the athlete injured her right ankle," it said.
WTA and ATP decide not to penalize players participating in Russia tennis exhibition event
As per official reports, the WTA and ATP have decided not to penalize the players traveling to St. Petersburg for the Northern Palmyra Trophies tournament in December 2023.
"This event is not affiliated with the WTA nor is the WTA supportive of the event being held. Players compete on the WTA Tour as independent contractors and, at their discretion, have the ability to participate in an exhibition without penalty during the off-season," the women's tennis body said. (via Reuters)
The ATP, in a statement, affirmed that players are free to decide where they play during the off-season.
"ATP does not currently place restrictions during the off-season related to exhibition events and, as independent contractors, players are able to choose where they compete," the ATP said.