Novak Djokovic in new media storm as his father is filmed posing with Russian flag wavers
Novak Djokovic is back at the centre of a fresh media storm after images emerged of his father Srdjan posing with fans brandishing pro-Russian flags at the Australian Open.
Images of the pro-Vladimir Putin protesters at the Melbourne Park site have been circulating since Djokovic’s latest win at the Grand Slam event.
Now the images of Srdjan appearing to throw his support behind them have caused a huge stir, which Novak is certain to be asked about when he next faces the media.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia on Thursday slammed the scenes as “a disgrace”.
Djokovic booked his place in the Australian Open semi-final with a straight sets trouncing of Russia’s Andrey Rublev in Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday night.
According to witnesses, after the match a group of fans unfurled Russian flags near the stadium, including one featuring Putin’s face, they are also alleged to have chanted pro-Russian slogans.
Tennis Australia would confirm that four people “revealed inappropriate flags and symbols and threatened security guards”. The say that Victoria Police were called in and that the demonstrators were ejected from Melbourne Park.
A video later posted on social media by a pro-Russian Australian YouTuber showed Djokovic’s father Srdjan posing with a man holding the Russian flag with the face of Vladimir Putin printed on it.
When uploaded the image was captioned: “Novak Djokovic’s father makes bold political statement.”
Serbian tennis reporters have been able to verify that it was almost certainly Djokovic’s father. Meanwhile, the Melbourne Age newspaper reported he said in Serbian: “Long live Russia.”
This is…quite a mess for the #AusOpen, to say the least.
Srdjan Djokovic posing with the pro-Putin rally last night just outside Rod Laver Arena.
The levels of security breakdowns that allowed for this are staggering.
Story/video via @jamesgraysport:https://t.co/L4gtaKKNP6 pic.twitter.com/qnOx3MGYqB
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 26, 2023
Spectators have been banned from having Russian or Belarusian flags at the Grand Slam.
That ruling followed Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, demanding action when they were seen among the crowd last week.
He said on Twitter Thursday that the latest incident was shameful.
“It’s a full package. Among the Serbian flags, there is: a Russian flag, Putin, Z-symbol, so-called Donetsk People’s Republic flag,” he tweeted with a link to the video.
“It’s such a disgrace … @TennisAustralia @AustralianOpen.”
Another man was photographed by numerous agencies including EPA and AFP, inside the stadium during Djokovic’s match with a pro-war “Z” symbol T-shirt. The Z is associated with support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It is taken from the Z painted onto Russian tanks to distinguish them from their Ukrainian counterparts, the same symbol has become popular with Russian nationalists.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian and Belarusian players have only been allowed to compete under a neutral white flag as independents, as is the case at the Australian Open.
Ukrainian tennis player Alex Dolgopolov was quick to react to the story, as he described Djokovic’s father as “disgusting” in a strongly worded tweet:
Absolutely disgusting 🤮
Politics should be kept out of sports they said. These people have absolutely no business in being on tennis tournaments, including @DjokerNole father, if they openly praise a genocidal regime👎🏻Z🇷🇺❌@atptour @AustralianOpen https://t.co/qq44uO7qFO
— Alex Dolgopolov (@TheDolgo) January 26, 2023
READ MORE: Russian fans display pro-war symbols and banned flags at Australian Open
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