Novak Djokovic’s father posed with Putin supporters carrying Russian flags at the Australian Open

Novak Djokovic’s father posed with Putin supporters carrying Russian flags at the Australian Open

Australian Open organizers issued a reminder to players and their entourages about their policy on “inappropriate flags” after video surfaced showing Novak Djokovic’s father posing for photos with fans holding Russian flags.

Four people have been banned from the Australian Open after displaying Russian flags, which have been banned at Melbourne Park, and threatening security guards, police and Tennis Australia said on Thursday.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said the four have not been charged but were evicted from the site.

The flags, at least one of which included an image of Vladimir Putin, were flown during a meeting outside Rod Laver Arena after Novak Djokovic beat Russian player Andrey Rublev in straight sets in the quarterfinals of the first Grand Prix tennis tournament. Slam of the year on Wednesday night. .

A video posted on social media showed a supporter on the steps of the Rod Laver Arena holding a Russian flag with Putin’s image on it.

Late on Wednesday, another video showed Djokovic’s father, Srdjan, posing for photos with fans holding Russian flags.

“Players and their teams have been informed and reminded of the event’s policy regarding flags and symbols and to avoid any situation that has the potential to be disruptive,” Tennis Australia said in a statement on Thursday.

“We continue to work closely with law enforcement and event security agencies.”

The Russian and Belarusian flags were banned from Melbourne Park during the tournament following a complaint from the Ukrainian ambassador to the country.

Belarus is a key arena for Russia’s war in Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special operation.”

Photos on social media also showed a fan in the crowd during Wednesday’s match wearing a “Z” on his jersey.

Russian forces have used the letter “Z” as an identification symbol on their vehicles in Ukraine after the invasion. Some supporters of the invasion have also used the poster.

Athletes from Russia and Belarus were banned last year from competing in several sporting events, including the men’s soccer World Cup and Wimbledon, the Billie Jean King Cup and tennis Davis Cup, because of the war in Ukraine. Russia invaded, with the help of Belarus, in February.

Russian and Belarusian players have been allowed to play at the Australian Open, French Open, and US Open, but as “neutral” athletes, so their nationalities are not recognized on any official calendar or in the event results and the flags of their countries are not displayed. in television graphics.

At the Australian Open, two women representing Belarus, Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka, and a man representing Russia, Karen Khachanov, reached the singles semifinals.

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