Tennis Australia, an organizer of the 2023 Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, on Tuesday prohibited fans from displaying Russian and Belarusian flags at matches after supporters of Ukrainian athletes complained to security and police officers. On Monday, Russian fans were wavering the country's flag in the stands during the match between Russian tennis player Kamilla Rakhimova and Ukraine's Kateryna Baindl, causing discontent among supporters of the Ukrainian sportswoman.
"(The) initial policy was that fans could bring them (flags) in but could not use them to cause disruption. Yesterday we had an incident where a flag was placed courtside. The ban is effective immediately. We will continue to work with the players and our fans to ensure the best possible environment to enjoy the tennis," Tennis Australia said in a statement, as quoted by the Guardian. The organizers added that numerous complaints by Ukrainian fans had become the main reason for the decision.
In early January, Tennis Australia rejected Kiev's request to ban Russian players, saying that they were allowed to perform under neutral status. Many international sports organizations have banned Russian athletes from participating in their competitions and canceled all events in the country in response to the country's ongoing military operation in Ukraine. Russian sportsmen have also been prohibited from competing under the national flag at major international sport events, including the Olympics.
Credit : Independent News Pakistan-INP