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Russia and Belarus flags banned at Australian Open after Ukraine protest

Russia and Belarus flags banned at Australian Open after Ukraine protest

TENNIS: Russian and Belarusian flags at the Australian Open were officially banned by Tennis Australia today (Jan 17) after Ukraine’s ambassador demanded action when one was sighted among the crowd.

TennisUkraine
By AFP

Tuesday 17 January 2023, 01:40PM


A fan holds a Russian flag during the game between Kateryna Baindl and Kamilla Rakhimova yesterday (Jan 16). Photo: AFP

A fan holds a Russian flag during the game between Kateryna Baindl and Kamilla Rakhimova yesterday (Jan 16). Photo: AFP

The red, white and blue stripes of Russia were seen amongst the crowd on yesterday’s opening day of the tournament during a first-round clash between Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl and Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova.

“Flags from Russia and Belarus are banned onsite at the Australian Open,” Tennis Australia said in a statement.

“Our initial policy was that fans could bring them in but could not use them to cause disruption. Yesterday, we had an incident where a flag was placed courtside.

“The ban is effective immediately. We will continue to work with the players and our fans to ensure the best possible environment to enjoy the tennis.”

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, tennis players from the country have competed under a neutral flag, as is the case at the Australian Open.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, called on Tennis Australia to take action late yesterday.

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“I strongly condemn the public display of the Russian flag during the game of the Ukrainian tennis player Kateryna Baindl at the Australian Open,” he tweeted.

“I call on Tennis Australia to immediately enforce its ‘neutral flag’ policy.”

Baindl won the match 7-5, 6-7, (8/10), 6-1 and will face American Caty McNally in the second round.

Myroshnychenko last week urged the Australian Open to ban Russian and Belarusian players entirely - the latter due to Belarus’ support of Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

Wimbledon went down that route last year, with players from Russia and Belarus barred, which led to the tournament being stripped of its ranking points by tennis’s governing bodies.

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