Russian flags banned from Australian Open following controversial display
| Last updated
Australian Open organisers have moved to ban Russian and Belarusian flags from the competition.
It comes following a controversial display of the red, white, and blue flag during an opening-round clash between Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova and Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl.
Initially, organisers had permitted such flags to be allowed inside the court, however, following the display they promptly changed their policy.
A Tennis Australia statement read, via ABC: “Flags from Russia and Belarus are banned onsite at the Australian Open.
"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.
That was earlier today, on court 14, Ukrainian Kateryna Baindl played against Kamilla Rakhimova @AustralianOpen @TennisAustralia pic.twitter.com/0ABIgfe288— Ukrainian Tennis • BTU (@ukrtennis_eng) January 16, 2023
"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."
A Russian flag could also be seen at John Cain Arena during a match between Russian Andrey Rublev and Austria’s Dominic Thiem.
However, this was before the blanket ban was announced.
The broadcast display of the Russian flag during the Rakhimova and Baindl matchup sparked outrage online.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko demanded that Tennis Australia take action.
He wrote: “I strongly condemn the public display of the Russian flag during the game of the Ukrainian tennis player Kateryna Baindl at the Australian Open today.
“I call on Tennis Australia to immediately enforce its ‘neutral flag’ policy.”
I strongly condemn the public display of the Russian flag during the game of the Ukrainian tennis player Kateryna Baindl at the Australian Open today. I call on Tennis Australia to immediately enforce its “neutral flag” policy. @TennisAustralia @AustralianOpen pic.twitter.com/zw8pLN4FIF— Vasyl Myroshnychenko (@AmbVasyl) January 16, 2023
Former Australian ambassador to Ukraine Doug Trappett was even more critical of Tennis Australia for not taking action sooner.
He wrote: “You could have banned Russian players and positioned yourself to give a robust response to such predictable incidents but you chose spinelessness.
“How painful for Ukrainians – incl. after atrocities by Russia in Dnipro yest.”
The role of Russian and Belarusian players in the tennis world has been a topic of controversy over the past year.
They were banned from Wimbledon, leading to the tournament being stripped of its ranking points by tennis governing bodies.
However, for the Australian Open, those players have been permitted to play, just with the exclusion of the country’s flags representing them.
Featured Image Credit: @ukrtennis_eng/Twitter. REUTERS / Alamy.
Topics: Russia, Ukraine, Australia, Australian Open, Tennis