Tennis showpiece the Australian Open has reversed its policy after initially letting fans display the Russian tricolor in the stands
A Russian flag pictured at the 2020 edition of the Australian Open in Melbourne. © Daniel Pockett / Getty Images
Organizers at the Australian Open have said they will no longer allow fans to display Russian and Belarusian flags at the tournament, following a complaint from the Ukrainian ambassador to the country regarding an “incident” on Monday.
“Flags from Russia and Belarus are banned onsite at the Australian Open,” read a statement from Tennis Australia on Tuesday. “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.”
A Russian flag was seen in the stands on the outer courts at Melbourne Park during the first-round match between Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl and Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova on Monday. The scene triggered anger from some Ukrainian observers, including women’s player Marta Kostyuk – who has already stated that she will continue her policy of not shaking hands with Russian and Belarusian players at the tournament. Kostyuk shared an image on Twitter of the Russian tricolor at the match between Baindl and Rakhimova, writing “no words…” followed by a series of ‘exploding head’ emojis.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia, Vasily Myroshnychenko, also weighed in, demanding that Tennis Australia enforce a “neutral flag” policy as he “strongly condemned” the presence of Russian colors.