One of the unspoken rules of human affairs is that ordinary citizens should never be personally harassed for the political actions of their leaders. That truism has never been properly observed enough, and went completely out of the window when Russia began its military operation in Ukraine.
This week, Serbian tennis sensation Novak Djokovic delivered a powerful rebuke to Wimbledon’s decision to bar the participation of Russian players from the famous grass tournament.
Referring to himself as a “child of war” who experienced the “emotional trauma” of the US-led 78-day NATO bombardment of his native town of Belgrade in 1999, Djokovic described the banning of Russian players at the prestigious tennis tournament as “crazy.”
“I cannot support the decision of Wimbledon, I think it is crazy,” the world’s top-ranked player said. “When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good.”
If only the leaders of Western institutions were blessed with such innate wisdom. Thanks to a high level of Russophobia, together with no shortage of virtue-signaling, Russians now find themselves the victims of institutional discrimination, and not just on the tennis court. From the Olympic Games to the game of chess, Russian passport holders are being ostracized through no fault of their own.
The excuse given for this inquisition now on display in Western capitals is that ‘Russia attacked its neighbor.’ For those who prefer a bit of context with their daily news, however, it’s important to note that Moscow had been issuing warnings over Ukraine’s attacks on Russian-speakers in the Donbass – which Russian President Vladimir Putin described as an actual “genocide” – for a long time. Predictably, the West blithely ignored Moscow’s serious concerns on the matter with all the tragic consequences of that attitude on display today.
While people have fiercely divided opinions over Moscow’s course of action in Ukraine, one thing cannot be disputed: from George W. Bush’s illicit invasion of Iraq in 2003, to Barack Obama’s military misadventure in Libya in 2011, Western athletes were never forced to suffer the pain of banishment from international competition due to the militancy of their leaders. Some might call that strange.