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Karen Khachanov: Azerbaijan calls for sanctions over tennis player’s pro-Armenia messages at the Australian Open

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CNN
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Azerbaijan’s tennis federation has known as for Karen Khachanov to be sanctioned after the Russian participant expressed help for the Armenian-majority inhabitants dwelling within the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh area on the Australian Open.

Khachanov, who has Armenian heritage, has written “Artsakh keep sturdy” on TV cameras after matches in Melbourne.

Artsakh is the Armenian time period for the breakaway state of Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian-majority area situated in Azerbaijani territory that has been the focus of decades of conflict.

Armenian forces took management of enormous swathes of territory in and round Nagorno-Karabakh within the early Nineties; combating then flared intermittently till 2020, when Azerbaijan seized management over giant components of these territories throughout a bloody, six-week battle.

“I’ve Armenian roots,” Khachanov advised reporters after his quarterfinal victory in opposition to Sebastian Korda on Tuesday.

“From my father’s facet, from my grandfather’s facet, even from my mother’s facet. I’m half Armenian. To be sincere, I don’t need to go deeper than that, and I simply needed to indicate power and help to my folks. That’s it.”

This month, important provides have dwindled in Nagorno-Karabakh after Azerbaijani activists have been accused by Armenian authorities of blockading the area. Azerbaijan has denied the allegation via spokespeople on Twitter.

A fan displays the Armenian flag during Khachanov's match against Korda at the Australian Open.

The renewed combating within the area in November 2020 lasted nearly two months, killing at the very least 6,500 folks, in line with Reuters. Hostilities ended after Armenian-backed separatists agreed to relinquish management over territories in Nagorno-Karabakh and Russia helped to dealer a ceasefire deal between the 2 nations.

In a letter addressed to the Worldwide Tennis Federation (ITF) dated January 21, Azerbaijian’s tennis federation known as for Khachanov to be punished for the messages of help he has written on cameras on the Australian Open.

In keeping with Reuters, the letter asks for sanctions to make sure Khachanov makes no extra “unacceptable provocations” at tennis tournaments.

The ITF advised CNN that it has “acquired a letter from the Azerbaijan Tennis Federation, which we’ve handed on to the related authorities.”

It added: “Guidelines for participant conduct at a Grand Slam occasion are ruled by the Grand Slam rulebook administered by the related organiser and regulator.”

When requested by reporters in regards to the letter to the ITF on Tuesday, Khachanov mentioned he hadn’t heard something about it.

CNN has contacted Khachanov’s representatives however didn’t obtain a response, whereas a request for remark from Tennis Australia, which organizes the Australian Open, has additionally been unanswered.

The 26-year-old Khachanov represents Russia, though he’s competing underneath a impartial flag in Melbourne. In mild of the battle in Ukraine, Russian and Belarusian tennis gamers have been permitted to play on the Australian Open however should achieve this “with out flags or nation recognition.”

This week, 4 individuals who have been attending the event have been questioned by Victoria Police after they “revealed inappropriate flags and symbols and threatened safety guards,” a Tennis Australia spokesperson mentioned. Organizers beforehand mentioned that followers wouldn’t be allowed to carry the Russian or Belarusian flag to the positioning of the Australian Open to implement its “impartial flag” coverage.

On Friday, Khachanov will try to succeed in his first grand slam last on the Australian Open when he faces Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas.