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‘Politicization of sports’: Envoy castigates Russian flag ban at Australian Open

The Australian Tennis Foundation said earlier that the prohibition stemmed from numerous complaints from Ukrainian tennis fans who had called police and security to the Australian Open venue 14 times because of a Russian flag flying above the stands

SYDNEY, January 17. /TASS/. Speaking to TASS on Tuesday, Russian Ambassador to Australia Alexey Pavlovsky lashed out at the Australian Open’s ban on Russian and Belarusian flags, blasting the move as just another example of the unacceptable politicization of sports.

"The move to ban Russian and Belarusian flags at Australian Open games is another example of the unacceptable politicization of sports. In addition to discrimination against Russian tennis players, who have to compete under a neutral flag, the Australian Tennis Foundation went even further, banning fans in the stands from showing support for our athletes. Regrettably, the organizers succumbed to blatant political manipulation at the expense of the spirit of fair play, which used to be inherent in the Australian Open," the envoy pointed out.

The Australian Tennis Foundation said earlier that the prohibition stemmed from numerous complaints from Ukrainian tennis fans who had called police and security to the Australian Open venue 14 times because of a Russian flag flying above the stands during a match between Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova and Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl on January 16. However, the Australian Tennis Federation had rejected the Ukrainian community’s demand that Russian and Belarusian players be disqualified, saying that the two countries’ athletes would be allowed to take part in the Australian Open as neutrals.

The 111th Australian Open, taking place in Melbourne on January 16-29, involves 20 Russian players.