top of page


Russian and Belarussian Flags Banned at Australian Open

Russian and Belarussian Flags Banned at Australian Open

Russian and Belarussian Flags Banned at Australian Open


Staff Writer

February 16, 2023

Katharine Ellis '26

In an unusual move at the Australian Open, Tennis Australia, the national governing body of the sport, banned the display of the flags of Russia and Belarus. The move followed an incident in which a Russian flag was hung on a courtside fence during a match between Ukrainian player, Kateryna Baindl, and Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia.

The incident occurred on the first day of the tournament during a women’s singles match. Some Russian fans attended the match holding Russian flags and wearing clothing such as T-shirts bearing the image of Russian President Vladimir Putin dressed as the devil with text reading “Mother Russia.” Later that day, Russian player Daniil Medvedev autographed a Russian flag following his victory over Marcos Giron.

In April of last year, officials at Wimbledon, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, made the decision to ban all Russian and Belarusian tennis players from competing in response to the war in Ukraine. The Australian Open allowed Russian and Belarusian players to compete in the major event without playing under the name of their country or its flag.

Historically, the Australian Open held a “neutral flag” policy where flags from all countries are allowed to be displayed for players during matches. However, Tennis Australia released a statement on Tuesday stating, “Yesterday we had an incident where a flag was placed courtside. We will continue to work with the players and our fans to ensure that this is the best possible environment to enjoy the tennis.”

The Ukrainian ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, said, “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.”

Following this statement and these opening matches, Tennis Australia changed their “neutral flag” policy for Russia and Belarus due to sensitivity around these countries’ involvement in the war in Ukraine.

In response to the ban, Arnya Sabalenka, a Belarusian tennis player and eventual Australian Open champion, said, “I mean, if everyone feels better this way, then it’s OK. I have zero control on it. What can I say? They did it. OK. No flags? No flags.”

Additionally, in response to the change in policy, one Russian fan said, “People can view that [the flags and clothing] as being obnoxious, but we were just being your normal supporters and there was no ridiculing or disrespect” In addition, Russian national and member of Boys Varsity Tennis Yury Tsibikov ’26 said, “To be honest, it makes a lot of sense with what’s happening in Ukraine right now. It’s totally fair as long as they don’t ban the players from competing in the tournaments.”

The Australian Open is an event dedicated to showcasing world-class tennis matches, and changing the “neutral flag” policy helps ensure conditions that allow the athletes to compete on a neutral playing ground.

Katharine Ellis is a staff writer for The Record.

November 16th

Read the latest issue of The Record as it appears in print.

The Latest

Our Picks

Debate Team Dominates Home Tournament in Historic Season

What Makes a Good All-School Speaker?

Where Does Our Trash Go?

There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

The Early Bird is Sleep Deprived

Conservation is Fashionable at Vintage Closet

Inside the College Recruitment Process with Committed Athletes

Renovations to Memorial Dorm Forces School to Adjust Rooming Plans

Courage Garden Unveiled During Emotional Ceremony

Editor's Note: This article was recovered from The Record's online archive. There may be stylistic and visual errors that interrupt the reading experience, as well as missing photos. To read this article as it appeared in print, view our print archives.

More reads


Editorials are written by members of The Record's Executive Board. They typically center on issues related to the school or student life on campus.

bottom of page