Australian Open Bans Russian, Belarusian Flags For Grand Slam

Australian Open Bans Russian, Belarusian Flags For Grand Slam

Russian and Belarusian flags can no longer be displayed at the 2023 Australian Open.

After a court side incident during the first-round match up between Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl and Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova, Tennis Australia took immediate action to ban Russian and Belarusian flags at the first Grand Slam tournament of the year.

Russian and Belarusian Flag Banned Due to Incident

Tennis Australia initially allowed fans to bring flags in as long as it didn’t cause disruption.

The Russian flag sparked controversy when it was spotted courtside during the first-round matchup between Baindl and Rakhimova. Vasyl Myroshnychenko, a Ukraine ambassador, called on Tennis Australia to ban the flag.

He took to Twitter and said, “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”

Tennis Australia released a statement on Tuesday banning the flags, “Flags from Russia and Belarus are banned onsite at the Australian Open.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”.

Baindl went on to win the match in three straight sets advancing to the second round of the tournament.

Russian and Belarussian Players Allowed to Compete

Last year, players from Belarus or Russia were not allowed to compete under their flag or country’s name.

Players from these nations were actually banned from competing at Grand Slam tournaments like Wimbledon due to Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine in February 2022.

However, organizers were fined and the tournament was stripped of ranking points by the Association of Tennis Professionals and Women’s Tennis Association.

Players Reactions to Flag Being Banned

Once news broke about the banned flags, Belarusian player Aryna Sabalenka opted to not speak on the decision, saying she would prefer that politics and sports remain separate.

The three-time Grand Slam semi finalist said, “I mean, if everyone feels better this way, then it’s OK. I have zero control on it. What can I say? They did it. OK. No flags? No flags.”

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