**Australian Tennis Federation Ban Russian and Belarusian Flags From Australian Open Venue**
In a bid to show solidarity with Ukraine, the Australian Tennis Federation has banned the flags of Russia and Belarus from the venue of the Australian Open. This follows a protest by the country’s ambassador, who noticed the flags in the stands during the first-round match between Ukrainian player Kateryna Baindl and Russian player Kamilla Rakhimova.
Tennis Australia said in a statement, “Our initial policy was that fans could bring them, but they couldn’t use them to disrupt. We had an incident yesterday where a Russian flag was put up next to the track. The ban is effective immediately.”
The Ukrainian ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, had requested Tennis Australia to take action against the display of these flags. He tweeted, “We strongly condemn the public display of the Russian flag during Ukrainian tennis player Kateryna Baindl’s match at the Australian Open. I call on Tennis Australia to immediately implement its ‘neutral flag’ policy”.
Baindl emerged victorious with a 7-5, 6-7 (8/10), 6-1 score and will face American Caty McNally in the second round.
Besides this, the Ambassador had suggested last week that the tournament completely ban players from Thailand and Belarus from participating. Wimbledon opted for this measure last year and banned players from these countries in the tournament, which was not counted for the rankings by the ATP and WTA.