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Home » Australian Open Prohibits Russian and Belarusian Flags Following Incident

Australian Open Prohibits Russian and Belarusian Flags Following Incident

17 January 2023, Tuesday
Tennis Australia has taken action over the appearance of a Russian flag at the Australian Open following the first round clash between Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine and Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia. They have issued a ban on Russian and Belarusian flags at the tournament.

Tennis Australia declared on Tuesday that flags from Russia and Belarus are not permitted at the Australian Open following an incident where one was placed courtside. The organization stated that previously, spectators were allowed to bring in the flags, but could not employ them to create disturbance. They added that the prohibition is now in effect and that they will continue collaborating with players and followers to offer a favorable environment to appreciate the sport.

The red, white and blue striped Russian flag was put on display behind Court 14 at Melbourne Park on Monday afternoon. This decoration then witnessed a tense match between Baindl and his opponent, which ended up being won by the former in three sets, thus allowing him to move on to the following round of the tournament.

The Ukrainian ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, expressed his strong disapproval of the Russian flag being publicly displayed during the match of Ukrainian tennis player Kateryna Bondl at the Australian Open. He called on Tennis Australia to immediately implement its 'neutral flag' policy in order to ban the flag at the tournament.

A Russian flag was presented to Russian player Daniil Medvedev to sign following his 6-0, 6-1, 6-2 victory against Marcos Giron in Rod Laver Arena on Monday night.

Due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russian and Belarusian players are unable to compete in the Australian Open as representatives of their respective countries. Last year, this same ban was enforced at Wimbledon, causing the sport's governing bodies to eliminate the tournament's ranking points.

Aryna Sabalenka, a Belarusian player who is seeded No. 5 at Melbourne Park and a three-time Grand Slam semifinalist, voiced her opinion on the new flag ban made by Tennis Australia after her first-round victory this Tuesday. Sabalenka said that while she would rather politics and sports stay separated, she acknowledged that understanding the decision making behind the ban. She said, "I mean, if everyone feels better this way, then it's OK. I have zero control on it. What can I say? They did it. OK. No flags? No flags."

Marta Kostyuk, Ukraine's second-ranked player, stated on Monday that she will not engage in handshakes with players from either Russia or Belarus due to her belief that they have not done enough to voice their opposition to the invasion of her nation. 

"I don't really talk to anyone," Kostyuk said in regard to her Russian and Belarusian peers. "I merely say 'hello' to them."

Kostyuk went on to state, "I haven't changed my stance on the war and everything that's happening on tour. People who just say they don't want war make it sound like Ukraine wants war, which is obviously not the case."

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