A controversy which the Serbian tennis player would have done well.
The father of Novak Djokovic was filmed this Wednesday in the company of supporters waving pro Russian flags, on the sidelines of the victory in the quarter-finals of the world No. 5.
After Novak Djokovic's match against Russia's Andrey Rublev, a group of supporters unfurled Russian flags, including one with the face of President Vladimir Putin, outside Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena, while chanting pro-Russian slogans.
A video later posted on an Australian Russian pro YouTube channel showed Srdjan Djokovic, the player's father, posing with the man waving the flag with Putin's face.
All with the caption: "Novak Djokovic's father makes a bold political statement".
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
Serbian sports journalists confirmed that it was indeed Srdjan Djokovic.
The Australian newspaper The Age also indicated that he had launched, in Serbian: "Long live Russia".
Spectators are banned from Russian or Belarusian flags during the tournament.
The Australian Tennis Federation said four people "displayed inappropriate flags and symbols and threatened security guards" at Melbourne Park before being chased away by police.
Scenes "shameful" according to the ambassador of Ukraine
Ukraine's Ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, had demanded action be taken after several of these flags were seen in crowds last week.
“It's a complete catalog.
Among the Serbian flags are: a Russian flag, Putin, the Z symbol, the so-called flag of the Donetsk People's Republic,” he tweeted Thursday with a link to the video.
"It's really shameful," he said indignantly to the Australian Federation and the organizers of the Open.
It's a full package.
Among the Serbian flags, there is: a Russian flag, Putin, Z-symbol, so-called Donetsk People's Republic flag.
It's such a disgrace…@TennisAustralia @AustralianOpen https://t.co/wZoZontcEj
— Vasyl Myroshnychenko (@AmbVasyl) January 25, 2023
Another spectator was photographed inside the stadium during Djokovic's game wearing a T-shirt bearing the 'Z' symbol, a pro-war symbol associated with support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.