Novak Djokovic in new media storm as his father is filmed posing with Russian flag wavers

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Novak Djokovic finds himself in another media storm after his father was filmed posing with fans brandishing pro-Russian flags at the Australian Open.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia on Thursday slammed the scenes as “a disgrace”.

Djokovic booked his place in the tournament 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 Vladimir 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.”

Spectators have 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.

READ MORE: Russian fans display pro-war symbols and banned flags at Australian Open

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