The Australian Open has just barely begun, and we already have controversy relating to the Russian and Belarusian players at the tournament.
In a match in the women’s division between Ukrainian Kateryna Baindl and Russian Kamilla Rakhimova -- lots of political undertones there -- a Russian flag was hung by a group of spectators. This would make sense, as there was a Russian athlete playing and her Russian fans would naturally fly their flag in support.
However, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, tweeted a picture of the flag and voiced his disgust and horror that a Russian flag would be displayed at a tournament.
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
In response to his concern, Tennis Australia banned all Russian and Belarusian flags from being displayed at the tournament moving forward.
"Flags from Russia and Belarus are banned onsite at the Australian Open," Tennis Australia said in a statement. "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.
"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."
If Russians are allowed to play the tournament, erasing any trace of Russia is an incredibly childish form of virtue-signaling.
If a country is at war, you can’t simply get rid of its fans, athletes, or flags. Punishing Russian citizens for showing support for a fellow citizen and athlete is nonsensical to an extreme.
The act of ostracizing Russian athletes for what their country is doing on the world stage needs to stop.
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