Aus Open: Tennis Australia bans Russian, Belarusian flags from tournament

Russian and Belarusian flags have been banned from the Australian Open after a courtside incident on opening day.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, demanded action from the organisers after fans displayed the Russian flag to support Kamilla Rakhimova in her first-round match against Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl.

“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,” Myroshnychenko tweeted.

Acknowledging Myroshnychenko’s demand, Tennis Australia on Tuesday said that it had now banned Russian and Belarusian flags from Melbourne Park, effective immediately.

“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. We will continue to work with the players and our fans to ensure the best possible environment to enjoy the tennis,” Tennis Australia said in a statement as quoted by ABC News.

Tennis Australia had initially allowed fans to show their support for players from both countries if they did not cause a disruption

Russian and Belarusian players are not allowed to compete under their countries’ flags in several sports, including tennis, since the invasion of Ukraine began in February last year.

Players from Russia and Belarus were also banned from playing Wimbledon in 2022 after the International Olympic Committee recommended sports federations to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from international competition.

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