The organisers of the Australian Open 2023 have banned flags from Russia and Belarus on site after spectators brought multiple such flags on the opening day of the first Grand Slam of the year.
It is pertinent to note that while usually fans can display flags at the Melbourne Park, which is the the venue for the competition every year, Tennis Australia reversed that policy only for the abovementioned countries as they were involved in the invasion of Ukraine that started about a year ago.
“Our initial policy was that fans could bring (flags) in but could not use them to cause disruption,” Tennis Australia said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Yesterday we had an incident where a flag was placed courtside. We will continue to work with the players and our fans to ensure that this is the best possible environment to enjoy the tennis.”
Medvedev offered a Russian Flag to autograph in Australian Open 2023
Notably, a Russian flag was displayed during Ukrainian player Kateryna Baindl’s 7-5, 6-7 (8), 6-1 win over Kamilla Rakhimova in a first round match on Court 14. In addition, Russian tennis ace and former world number 1 Daniil Medvedev was also presented a Russian fan by a fan seeking his autograph match. The incident took place after Medvedev’s 6-0, 6-1, 6-2 win over Marcos Giron.
Earlier, athletes from Russia and Belarus were not allowed to participate in competitions like the Wimbledon and even from team events like the Davis Cup or the Billie Jean King Cup last year owing to an ongoing war in Ukraine where Russia invaded Ukranian territory with help from Belarus.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia and New Zealand had condemned the display of the Russian flag after which Tennis Australia have taken this call.
“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,” Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia and New Zealand Vasyl Myroshnychenko tweeted.
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. @TennisAustralia @AustralianOpen pic.twitter.com/zw8pLN4FIF
— Vasyl Myroshnychenko (@AmbVasyl) January 16, 2023
“I call on Tennis Australia to immediately enforce its ‘neutral flag’ policy,” the ambassador had urged.