Poland has refused entry to the Russian tennis player Vera Zvonareva, who was planning to participate in the upcoming Warsaw Open 2023. The Polish Interior Ministry has cited concerns about the state and public security as the main reasons for denying entry to the athlete.
Zvonareva intended to enter Poland using a French visa, which, as a Schengen visa, validates entry to all countries in the Schengen area, including Poland.
“Yesterday, July 21, the Border Guard prevented a Russian tennis player from entering Poland. Vera Zvonareva, using a visa issued by France, tried to get to our country on a flight from Belgrade to Warsaw. After arriving from Serbia, the tennis player stayed in the transit zone of Chopin Airport in Warsaw and today, after 12.00 pm, flew to Podgorica,” the statement posted on the official government website reads.
The move, which is being perceived as a political act, has been protested by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), who warned that the issue will be further investigated.
“The WTA is aware of the situation involving Vera Zvonareva in Warsaw. The safety and well-being of all players is a top priority of the WTA. Vera has departed Poland, and we will be evaluating the issue further with the event,” the statement noted.
The decision to bar the tennis player from entering Poland follows an incident that occurred in November of 2022, when a Russian cruise missile landed in the Schengen territory, causing two casualties.
The Schengen country has emerged as a strong ally of Ukraine in the ongoing Russian war and has been deeply involved in the political situation between the two countries in conflict. The situation also resulted in receiving aggressive signals from Russian President Vladimir Putin that the decision to reinforce the country’s eastern border with troops due to the increased Russian paramilitary presence in the region would be considered aggression against Russia.
This has further aggravated the tension between Russia and Poland, leading to the latter implementing more stringent policies, and banning a Russian athlete from entering the country was more than likely to happen.
Zvonareva would be one out of millions of Russians prohibited from entering Poland as of September 2022, when the government announced that Russian citizens with Schengen visas would not be allowed to enter Poland from outside the EU.
The authorities pointed out that Zvonarova’s stay in Poland was undesirable due to state security and protection of public safety, while Wimbledon and the Lawn Tennis Association had reversed their position of banning Russian and Belarusian players from participating in events and tournaments in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
While the measure was initially introduced to Russian nationals entering the country by land, it was further expanded to include those entering via air and sea ports in an effort to tighten their sanctions against Russia.