Djokovic, Russian and Belarusian players almost didn't play in Rome according to reports
Novak Djokovic and his Russian and Belarusian colleagues almost did not play at the Rome Masters this year in a revelation after the event.
There were some rumblings that this might happen and Italian Olympic National Committee chairman Giovanni Malagò confirmed that. He has publicly endorsed the decision of Wimbledon and he wanted to see the same done in Italy:
"As IOC president and IOC member, I deal with sports policy and not politics. In Italy, I repeat, I represent the CIO. And the Executive Board recommended all federations not to invite Russian and Belarusian athletes to tournaments and sporting events. Wimbledon, which is a private club, has followed this indication."
In the traditional press conference at the end of the tournament, Italian Tennis Federation chairman Angelo Binaghi said he was proud of the results achieved this year and responded harshly to all the statements made by Malagò in recent weeks:
"The increase in presale from 11% of forecasts to 22% real, after long meditations we attributed it to the Malagò effect, which first tried not to let world number 1 Novak Djokovic play in Rome, then the Russians."
Djokovic went on to play and win the event after a week of very strong performances. It seems like this will remain a topic for the remainder of the year.