Melbourne: Tennis Australia has banned Russian and Belarusian flags at the Australian Open after a controversy erupted over the Russian flag seen hanging outside the court during Monday's match between Ukraine's Kateryna Baindl and Russia's Kamilla Rakhimova. Players from Belarus and Russia are permitted to compete in this year's Australian Open, although they are not permitted to compete under their national flag or name, which has become standard in the international sport since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
"Flags from Russia and Belarus are banned onsite at the Australian Open," Tennis Australia said in a statement Tuesday as stated by Sydney Morning Herald. "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 tennis," it said.
The red, white and blue-striped Russian flag was hoisted by supporters of Rakhimova as she competed against Baindl of Ukraine in the opening round, while Ukrainian supporters summoned security and law enforcement. Baindl ended up clinching victory in the match to move to the second round of the tournament. Earlier, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, Ukraine's ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, was outraged by the "display of the Russian flag" and urged Tennis Australia to forbid the flag from being flown at the competition. "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 wrote on Twitter.
Russian players allowed
While players from Belarus and Russia are competing in the Australian Open, they were banned from playing at Wimbledon altogether in 2022. Due to the exclusion of these athletes last year, the sport's governing authorities were forced to deprive Wimbledon of its ranking points.
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