Now the war has them too Australian Open achieved!
When the Russian Kamilla Rachimova (21) played the Ukrainian Katerina Baindl (28), Russian fans sat in the stands in Russia T-shirts and with Russian flags. A T-shirt featured the famous image of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (70) on a horse. Ukrainian viewers felt provoked by this and called the police. But she did nothing.
On Tuesday morning, the organizer Tennis Australia banned Russian flags in Melbourne Park, and Belarusian ones as well. A statement said: “Our policy was that you could bring the flags but not use them to cause disruption. Yesterday we had an incident when a flag was shown on the pitch.”
But the ban was probably not entirely voluntary. Previously, there was a risk of serious diplomatic complications, because the Ukrainian ambassador to Australia, Vasil Miroshnichenko, had clearly asked the organizers to take immediate action.
Since shortly after the war began on February 24, 2022, Russian and Belarusian professionals have only been allowed to compete as independent athletes without national emblems. Most Ukrainians have no problem with the Russian opponents. Baindl also shook hands with Rachimowa after the game, which she won 7:5, 6:7, 6:1.
One of the newcomers to Russia, Eugene Routman (36), came to Australia with his parents when he was five. He told The Age newspaper: “Sport has nothing to do with politics and politics should have nothing to do with sport. It’s a tennis game. They punish the tennis players who are probably against the war, but they cannot speak because Russia is not a democracy, Russia is an authoritarian state.
Jacinta Allan (49), Deputy Prime Minister of Victoria, said: “This is a good decision by Tennis Australia. This is an important step and sends a very clear message. The athletes from Russia and Belarus are only allowed to compete without their flags. So it is also about sending a clear signal for human rights.”
Meanwhile, Marta Kostyuk (20), a top player, renewed her line against Russian and Belarusian opponents, who are not clearly opposed to the war. The number 57 in the world from Kyiv: “I will not shake hands with any player who has not spoken out clearly against the war. Just saying she doesn’t want war isn’t enough. It sounds to us Ukrainians as if we want him.”
In the match between Daniil Medvedev (26) and Marcos Giron (USA) on Monday evening local time, Russian fans celebrated their compatriot after the 6:0, 6:1, 6:2. Probably for the last time with flags.