Tennis Australia issues warning after Novak Djokovic's father poses with pro-Putin demonstrators
Novak Djokovic received a warning from Tennis Australia on Thursday after his father Srdjan was seen on video taking part in a demonstration supporting Russian president Vladimir Putin, according to The Telegraph.
The governing body in charge of the ongoing Australian Open reportedly warned Novak Djokovic, who is Serbian, and his family to not promote any more political causes.
In the video, Srdjan can be seen standing with the ringleader of the demonstration while holding up a Russian flag with Putin's face printed on it. He is translated in the video as saying "Long live the Russians," while the ringleader sends messages of support to a pro-Putin Moscow biker gang and Russian presences in the war in Ukraine.
Soon after the video was posted, Tennis Australia issued a statement reminding players to avoid any situations with "the potential to disrupt:"
A small group of people displayed inappropriate flags and symbols and threatened security guards following a match on Wednesday night and were evicted. One patron is now assisting police with unrelated matters.
Players and their teams have been briefed and reminded of the event policy regarding flags and symbols and to avoid any situation that has the potential to disrupt. We continue to work closely with event security and law enforcement agencies.
The video was posted after Djokovic's straight-sets win over Russia's Andrey Rublev.
This is not the first time Djokovic has presented a headache for Tennis Australia, as the 21-time Grand Slam champion was famously booted from the country last year over his refusal to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and an error in his paperwork.
This time, it is Djokovic's father who is very publicly expressing support for a war instigated by Russia that has killed thousands of Ukrainian civilians and many more Ukrainian and Russian soldiers. The war, which Russia initially hoped to be a quick victory, has seen several significant setbacks for Putin as the Ukrainians have held firm and received significant support from allies in the West.
Djokovic himself, however, was said to have sent a message of support to a former Ukrainian player after Russia launched its invasion. He also spoke out against Wimbledon banning Russian and Belarusian players last year.
Srdjan did not attend the Australian Open semifinals on Friday — where his son defeated American Tommy Paul in straight sets — in order to avoid disruption. “I am here to support my son only," Srdjan said in a statement. "I had no intention of causing such headlines or disruption."