MELBOURNE: Russian and Belarusian flags have been banned from the Melbourne Park precinct throughout the Australian Open after a criticism from the Ukraine ambassador to the nation, a transfer that the Russian embassy described as “regrettable”.
Vasyl Myroshnychenko, Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, posted an image displaying a Russian flag hanging from a bush beside the courtroom the place his compatriot Kateryna Baindl was enjoying her first-round match on Monday.
“I strongly condemn the general public show of the Russian flag throughout the sport of the Ukrainian tennis participant Kateryna Baindl on the Australian Open at this time,” he wrote on Twitter. “I name on Tennis Australia to right away implement its ‘impartial flag’ coverage.”
I strongly condemn the general public show of the Russian flag throughout the sport of the Ukrainian tennis participant Kateryna Baindl on the Australian Open at this time. I name on Tennis Australia to right away implement its “impartial flag” coverage. @TennisAustralia @AustralianOpen pic.twitter.com/zw8pLN4FIF
— Vasyl Myroshnychenko (@AmbVasyl) January 16, 2023
Tennis Australia responded on Tuesday by banning the flags of the 2 international locations.
“Flags from Russia and Belarus are banned onsite on the Australian Open,” Tennis Australia mentioned in a press release.
“Our preliminary coverage was that followers might deliver them in however couldn’t use them to trigger disruption. Yesterday we had an incident the place a flag was positioned courtside.
“The ban is efficient instantly. We are going to proceed to work with the gamers and our followers to make sure the absolute best setting to benefit from the tennis.”
Belarus is getting used as a key staging floor for Russia’s struggle in Ukraine, which Moscow phrases a “particular operation”.
Russian and Belarusian gamers have been banned from Wimbledon final yr however are capable of compete as particular person athletes with out nationwide affiliation on the Australian Open.
Their flags will not be displayed beside their names in TV broadcasts, as is the case for different gamers, and their nation just isn’t indicated on draw sheets.
The Russian embassy in Australia mentioned that Tennis Australia had given in to “political manipulation”.
“On prime of already discriminating in opposition to Russian tennis gamers with its ‘impartial flag’ coverage, Tennis Australia now went additional by ensuring they can’t be visibly supported by their followers,” the Russian embassy mentioned in a press release.
“It’s certainly regrettable to see the match organisers give in to overt and moderately boastful political manipulation sacrificing the spirit of honest play as soon as inherent to the Australian Open.”
Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka mentioned she understood how the show of the flags of the 2 international locations would possibly upset Ukrainian gamers.
“I actually thought that sport is nothing to do with politics but when everybody feels higher this fashion, then it’s okay,” the fifth seed informed reporters after her first-round win on Tuesday.
“If Tennis Australia made this choice to make them really feel higher, okay. They did it, what can I do? I can do nothing.”
Moscow-born Eugene Routman had Russia’s flag within the stands on Monday throughout Kamilla Rakhimova’s match in opposition to Baindl and mentioned he and his fellow Russian followers had performed nothing flawed.
“We received a couple of complaints however we weren’t heckling, we have been simply cheering for the Russian participant as a result of she solely had one supporter, her mum,” Routman informed Melbourne publications the Herald and The Age.
“It’s not like we’re waving Nazi flags and ISIS flags. It’s a sovereign nation.”
Ukraine’s quantity two Marta Kostyuk informed Reuters on Monday that she wouldn’t shake fingers with tour rivals from Russia and Belarus who she feels haven’t performed sufficient to talk out in opposition to the invasion.