Tennis Australia announced on Tuesday that fans will no longer be allowed to bring a Russian or Belarusian flag to an Australian Open court.
The decision comes next Ukrainian ambassador to Australia strongly condemns[ed]The Russian flag is displayed in the grand slam stands.
Tennis Australia wrote in its statement: “The flags of Russia and Belarus are banned from the venue at the Australian Open.
Our original policy was that fans could bring them in, but they couldn’t use them to cause disruption. Yesterday we had an incident where the flag was put on the side of the field.
“The ban is effective immediately. We will continue to work with our players and fans to ensure the best possible environment for enjoying tennis.”
The flag appears during the first round match between Ukraine’s Kateryna Bendel and Russia’s Kamila Rakimova in Melbourne.
In light of the ongoing war in Ukraine, tennis players in Russia and Belarus have been allowed to play in the Australian Open but must do so “without flags or state recognition”.
“I strongly condemn the public display of the Russian flag during the match of Ukrainian tennis player Kateryna Bendel at the Australian Open today,” Vasyl Miroshnichenko said. books on Twitter on Monday, along with an image showing the flag on display.
“I call on Tennis Australia to immediately impose a ‘neutral flag’ policy. »
It was not clear who was responsible for raising the flag during the match.
A picture of the agency also shows the Russian flag displayed in the stands during the first round match between Daniil Medvedev and American Marcus Giron.
Bendel won the match 7-5, 6-7 (10-8), 6-1 and will face American Katie McNally in the second round.
Tennis’s reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been the subject of controversy over the past year.
Last year, Wimbledon organizers banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in the tournament in the face of “unprovoked and unprecedented military aggression,” according to a statement in April.
The ATP and WTA, the governing bodies for men’s and women’s tennis, later responded by stripping Wimbledon of ranking points due to what they viewed as “discrimination” towards Russian and Belarusian players.
After her first-round win at the Australian Open tennis tournament, Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk said she would not shake hands with rivals Russia and Belarus, who she said did not do enough to denounce the invasion.