The Ukrainian ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko has called on Tennis Australia to take action after a Russian flag was seen being waved during the opening round of the Australian Open.
The main draw for the first round saw Ukraine's Kateryna Baindl drawn against Kamilla Rakhimova. Tensions between the two nations remain high following Russia's invasion of their Eastern European neighbours.
Since the invasion a number of Russian athletes have faced a whole host of sanctions due to their nation's actions. Tennis has been one of many sports to put sanctions in place, with Wimbledon bosses banning all Russian players from competing at SW19 last year.
The first Grand Slam of 2023 has seen a more lenient approach being taken, with Australian Open bosses allowing Russian stars to compete, but under a neutral flag. One round in however, the policy has already been met with controversy.
During Baindl's clash with Rakhimova the Russian flag was seen being waved court-side from the crowd area. The action has since been slammed by ambassador Myroshnychenko, who took to social media to call on event organisers to implement their neutral flag policy.
He wrote: "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."
His thoughts were also echoed by the former Australian ambassador to Ukraine Doug Trappett, who hit out at tournament organisers for not banning Russian competitors. Trappett responded: "Embarrassing @AustralianOpen - and it’s only day one!
"You could have banned Russian players and positioned yourself to give a robust response to such predictable incidents but you chose spinelessness. How painful for Ukrainians - incl. after atrocities by Russia in Dnipro yest[erday].
Ahead of the tournament organisers condemned the Russian invasion, telling WWOS: "Tennis Australia stands united with the international governing bodies of tennis - the Grand Slams, the ATP and WTA Tours and the ITF - in its condemnation of Russia’s actions and its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine."