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Why You Won’t See Any More Russian Flags At The Australian Open

The first women's match was eventful, to say the least.
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Tennis Australia has banned Russian flags from the Australian Open after an incident at Monday’s first-round women’s match. 

As Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl and Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova faced up on the court, spectators and players couldn’t help but notice a large Russian flag displayed prominently in the stands. 

The flag’s display amidst Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine was not taken lightly and the incident led to Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, publicly condemning the flag’s presence at the game. 

In a statement released on Twitter, Myroshychenko 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,” Myroshnychenko wrote.” I call on Tennis Australia to immediately enforce its ‘neutral flag’ policy.”

Unlike last year’s Wimbledon organisers, who banned players from Russia and Belarus from competing altogether, Tennis Australia has allowed Russian and Belarusian players to compete at the tournament, as long as they play under a neutral banner. 

Initially, spectators were allowed to bring Russian and Belarusian flags to the tournament (as long as they did not cause disruption) but the recent incident has led to Tennis Australia reversing this decision. 

On Tuesday, Tennis Australia announced that fans will no longer be allowed to bring the Russian or the Belarusian flag with them to Melbourne Park. 

The statement read: “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.

“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.”

At this stage, the identity of the Russian flag bearer remains unknown.

While it’s expected that most players and fans will support the flag ban, for others, it may not be enough. 

Marta Kostyuk
Marta Kostyuk at the 2023 Australian Open (Credit: Source: Getty)

We can’t forget that Ukrainian tennis player and Australian Open star, Marta Kostyuk, refuses to even shake hands with Russian or Belarusian players who have not publicly condemned the Russian invasion. 

The incident has certainly proven that politics and sports are inseparable.

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