Australian Open | Russian flags sow discord

(Melbourne) “Unacceptable politicization of sport” for Moscow, logical decision for “shocked” Ukrainian players: the decision of the organizers of the Australian Open to ban the Russian and Belarusian flags in the stands cast a shadow over the second day of the tournament on Tuesday.

While since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian and Belarusian tennis players have been competing under a neutral banner, Russian flags were waved in the stands on Monday, notably during the match between Ukrainian Kateryna Baindl and Russian Kamilla Rakhimova (victory of the first in three sets).

Another Russian flag was also seen at Rod Laver Arena during Daniil Medvedev’s winning match against American Marcos Giron.

The Australian Tennis Federation, seized by Ukrainian diplomacy, announced on Tuesday the banning of Russian and Belarusian flags in the stands, modifying its initial policy according to which “fans could bring them, but could not use them to cause disturbances” .

“You could have banned Russian players and positioned yourself by responding seriously to these predictable incidents, but you chose cowardice”, criticized on Twitter the former Australian ambassador to Ukraine, Doug Trappett, stationed in this country. in 2015 and 2016.


Prior to the tournament, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, had indeed called for Russian and Belarusian players to be banned from the Australian Open, as the organizers of the Wimbledon tournament had done last year. past.

The reversal of the Australian federation on the flags earned him criticism from the Russian embassy in Australia, which in a press release called this decision “unacceptable politicization of sport”.

“As well as discriminating against Russian players with this ‘neutral banner’ policy, the Australian Federation is now going a step further by ensuring that they cannot receive any visible support from their fans,” she said. lamented in a press release.

” I think they [les spectateurs] did it for fun, but they’re stupid. Tennis Australia should exclude them”, judge on the contrary the Ukrainian tennis player Oleksii Krutykh, “shocked” like all the other Ukrainian players present in Australia, he explained to AFP.

“My Ukrainian friends are in danger”

” What they [les spectateurs avec les drapeaux russes] do is unfair. I think those who did this [durant le match de Baindl]… I think it’s Russians who live here and don’t care what’s happening in my country,” said Krutykh, 188e world player and eliminated Tuesday in the first round by the Argentinian Diego Schwartzman.

“My Ukrainian friends are in danger, people are dying there, but they don’t know it,” he added, days after a deadly Russian strike on a residential building in Dnipro that killed at least 44 people this weekend.

Krutykh admitted to being particularly shocked by the presence of a spectator wearing a t-shirt with the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “This man has killed thousands of people, and someone is wearing this t-shirt,” he said.

The Kyiv native, who was outside his country when the war broke out, says he feels compelled to keep playing. “I don’t know how I am here, playing tennis,” he explains, but “there is only one thing I can do, so I try to surpass myself”.

“I thought to myself that the people I know in Ukraine are fighting for my country, so I have to fight on the court. This is part of the war,” adds the Ukrainian.

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