Australian Open Championship She told CNN she “briefed and reminded” the players and their escorts about the “tournament policy regarding flags and symbols” on Thursday after a video emerged on Wednesday. Novak DjokovicPhoto of father, Srdjan, at a demonstration with fans carrying Russian flags, expressing his support for Russia.
In a video posted to YouTube by a well-known Vladimir Putin fan, the Serbian player’s father can be seen standing with a fan outside Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena. The man wears a “Z” symbol on his shirt, and is holding a Russian flag with Putin’s face on it. He says: “Long live Russia.”
The symbol “Z” is Seen as a sign of support for Russiaincluding its invasion of Ukraine. The symbol has been seen on Russian equipment and clothing in Ukraine.
“The players and their teams have been briefed and reminded of the event’s policy in relation to flags and symbols and to avoid any situation that could disrupt it,” an Australian Open spokesperson told CNN on Thursday.
“We continue to work closely with juvenile security and law enforcement agencies.”
An Australian Open spokesperson went on to say “A small group of people displayed inappropriate flags and symbols and threatened security guards following Wednesday night’s match and have been evacuated. A patron is now assisting the police with unrelated matters.”
In a statement on Friday that addressed criticism of his actions but stopped short of offering an apology, Serjan Djokovic said he was in Melbourne “only to support my son”, and had “no intention of causing such headlines or disruption”.
“I was out with Novak’s fans like I do after all of my son’s matches to celebrate his victories and take pictures with them. I had no intention of getting involved in this,” he said.
“My family has lived through the horror of war, and we only wish for peace.”
He added that he would watch his son’s semi-final match against American superstar Tommy Ball from his home on Friday, “so there is no disturbance … for my son or another player.”
His management told CNN that Novak Djokovic would not comment on the situation.
Earlier on Friday, Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia urged the player to express his position on the war, saying the incident with his father was a “provocation” and “sheds a negative light on Novak himself as he prepares for his semi-final match.”
“I think that in order to dispel speculation, it is important to make a very strong statement about his position on this war, and I would like to see an apology from Novak Djokovic,” Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Mrosnichenko told CNN.
“Of course, the son cannot be responsible for his father’s sins, but he may have the same opinion as his father. I think the world should know where he stands.”
Tennis Australia confirmed four people were expelled from the tournament on Wednesday for displaying pro-war images.
According to the rules of the Australian Open Russian and Belarusian flags are prohibited from the event.
Tennis Australia has a ‘flag neutral’ policy and has reaffirmed its policy amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.