Fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine extends to NHL, tennis

Elina Monfils returns a serve Feb. 15 in Dubai.
Ukraine-born Elina Monfils says she won’t play a scheduled match against Russian Anastasia Potapova unless the recommendation of the International Olympic Committee regarding Russian or Belarussian players is followed.
(Kamran Jebreili / Associated Press)
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Ukraine-born tennis player Elina Monfils said Monday she won’t play her scheduled round-of-32 match against Russian Anastasia Potapova at a tournament in Monterrey, Mexico, unless the organizations that govern the men’s and women’s tennis tours and oversee international tennis follow the recommendation of the International Olympic Committee to accept Russian or Belarussian players “only as neutral athletes without displaying any national symbols, colors, flags or anthems.”

Monfils, known as Elina Svitolina until her marriage last year to fellow tennis pro Gael Monfils, was the No. 1 seed at the tournament and was to have played on Tuesday. She ranks 15th in the world.

“I do not blame any of the Russian athletes. They are not responsible for the invasion of our motherland,” she said via social media. “Moreover, I wish to pay tribute to all the players, especially Russians and Belarussians, who bravely stated their position against the war. Their support is essential.” She added an image of an upraised fist pointing toward the name of the country, in Ukraine’s colors of blue and yellow.


Ukrainian tennis player Yuliia Zhytelna has found support from Russian Cal State Northridge doubles partner Ekaterina Repina during a very stressful time.

Feb. 28, 2022

Separately, the NHL and International Ice Hockey Federation stated their condemnation of Russia’s aggression and announced they will not hold competitions in Russia.

“The National Hockey League condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and urges a peaceful resolution as quickly as possible,” the NHL said in a news release. “Effective immediately, we are suspending our relationships with our business partners in Russia and we are pausing our Russian language social and digital media sites. In addition, we are discontinuing any consideration of Russia as a location for any future competitions involving the NHL.”

The IIHF Council said it had taken back from Russia the rights to play host to the 2023 world junior championships and had suspended all Russian and Belarusian national and club teams from IIHF competitions until further notice.

“The IIHF is not a political entity and cannot influence the decisions being taken over the war in Ukraine,” IIHF president Luc Tardif said in a statement. “We nevertheless have a duty of care to all of our members and participants and must do all we can to ensure that we are able to operate our events in a safe environment for all teams taking part in the IIHF World Championship program.”