Tennis Australia is facing a new political crisis, with officials being urged to enforce their neutral flag policy over a looming Russia-Ukraine scandal.
Ukraine’s Ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko has slammed the display of a Russian flag during a match between Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova – who is playing as a neutral under tournament rules – and Ukraine’s Kateryna Baidl on the opening day of the tournament.
A group of Rakhimova supporters displayed the Russian flag and wore clothes in Russian colors on Court 14 during the game.
“I strongly condemn the public display of the Russian flag during today’s Australian Open match by Ukrainian tennis player Kateryna Baindl,” Ambassador Myroshnychenko wrote on social media.
“I call on Tennis Australia to immediately enforce its ‘neutral flag’ policy.”
Former Australian Ambassador to Ukraine Doug Trappett also challenged the organizers of the event.
“Embarrassing @AustralianOpen – and it’s only day one,” he wrote.
“You could have suspended Russian players and positioned yourself to give a robust response to such foreseeable incidents, but you chose spinelessness.
“How painful for Ukrainians – incl. after Russia’s atrocities in Dnipro yest.
Other social media users described the depiction as “extremely hateful” and “disgraceful”.
A number of players, including last year’s men’s finalist Daniil Medvedev and Belarussian pair Aryna Sabalenka, have been forced to play under the white flag after Russia’s attacks on Ukraine.
A TA official told News Corp Monday night that there was no existing ban on Russian flags, but viewers could be expelled for unruly behavior.
Originally posted as Australian Open 2023: Russian flag scandal erupts during Ukrainian game
https://www.codesports.com.au/tennis/australian-open-2023-russia-flag-scandal-erupts-during-ukrainian-match/news-story/f8e3f0d8c897274eeea228c140211523?nk=18c856a27407c8eb514fdf9a3556034a-1673911748 Australian Open 2023: Russia flag scandal erupts during Ukrainian game