Tennis Australia has decided to ban Russian and Belarusian flags from the ongoing Australian Open after receiving complaints from Ukrainian Ambassador to the country.
Vasyl Myroshnychenko, Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, posted a picture on Twitter showing a Russian flag hanging beside the court where his compatriot Kateryna Baindl was playing her first-round match on Monday.
“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,” he wrote on the social media website.
“I call on Tennis Australia to immediately enforce its ‘neutral flag’ policy.”
The governing body of tennis in Australia was quick to replay and ban Russian and Belarusian flags from the Australian Open.
“Flags from Russia and Belarus are banned onsite at the Australian Open,” Tennis Australia said in a statement.
“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.”
Due to Russia and Belarus’ ongoing war against Ukraine, athletes from the two countries can only compete on the tennis circuit as neutrals. Their flags are not displayed beside their names in TV broadcasts, as is the case for other players, and their nation is not indicated on draw sheets.
Wimbledon already banned them last year and may do so again this year as well as the conflict rages on.