Novak Djokovic's dad poses with Russian flags at pro-Putin rally during Australian Open
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Novak Djokovic's father has sparked outrage after he was pictured posing alongside Russian flags and pro-Putin supporters while at the Australian Open.
After witnessing his son reach the semi-finals of the tournament thanks to a straight sets win over Russian star Andrey Rublev, Srdjan Djokovic was mobbed by fans outside Rod Laver Arena.
But instead of making a quick exit, Srdjan posed for snaps with some very questionable characters at what's being described as a 'pro-Russia rally'.
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
In a video uploaded to YouTube by pro-Russian Australian Simeon Boikov, Srdjan Djokovic can be seen standing next to a man who is holding up a Russian flag with President Vladimir Putin’s face on it.
The bloke snapped alongside Srdjan is also wearing a t-shirt which features the “Z” symbol, a sign heavily affiliated with those who support the invasion of Ukraine.
It is unclear whether Srdjan knew that the men he was posing with were pro-war supporters, although a number of men who were ejected from the quarter-final clash are now reportedly being investigated by Victorian Police.
This is…quite a mess for the #AusOpen, to say the least.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 26, 2023
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
But simply posing for some photographs wasn't all that Novak's father did.
A report from Newscorp claims: "Before departing, Djokovic Sr appears to say 'zivejli Russiyani'. Živeli means ‘cheers' in Serbian and is derived from an expression wishing ‘long life’, with Russiyani referring to the Russian people. Reports therefore translated the full phrase to mean 'long live the Russians'."
Upon seeing the footage, Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia and New Zealand Vasyl Myroshnychenko took to social media to condemn it.
“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.
“It’s such a disgrace... @TennisAustralia @AustralianOpen.”
This is a pretty clear #AusOpen security failure, given the instructions they've been given (image via @_claymagazine).— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 25, 2023
Maybe just ban all flags next year if you can't get this right? Tennis could do with less nationalism, anyhow, even if that is the increasing trend. pic.twitter.com/hIZompBnFI
Tennis Australia has spoken on the matter, releasing a statement.
"A small group of people displayed inappropriate flags and symbols and threatened security guards following a match on Wednesday night and were evicted," the sport's governing body said.
"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."
Absolutely disgusting 🤮— Alex Dolgopolov (@TheDolgo) January 26, 2023
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
This guy will get banned for life, at least for all Australian events, right? @AustralianOpen https://t.co/IpP5g4q9lr— Alex Dolgopolov (@TheDolgo) January 25, 2023
With the conflict in Ukraine still continuing, Russian athletes have been punished by either being banned altogether - as they did in the World Cup - or having to compete under a neutral banner.
It means the likes of Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov haven't had the Russian flag alongside their names during broadcasts.
But this regulation isn't just for the athletes themselves with fans also being banned from brandishing Russian or Belarusian flags at the Grand Slam.
Boikov, who was the man who posted the clip of Srdjan onto YouTube, urged Russian fans to ‘strike back’ at Tennis Australia for banning the flags.
“Today Djokovic plays Andrey Rublev. I hereby appeal or instruct everyone to get down there. I can confirm that we’ve got some surprises,” Boikov said.
“Tennis Australia brace yourselves… for fans, for people who love tennis, if you know what I mean. I’ve got to word it that way or they’ll get me for incitement. We’ve got a lot of serious fans in Melbourne heading down.”
He added: “This is about honour and dignity now. This is an attack on honour and dignity. This has got nothing to do with the war. This is an attack on freedom in Australia. This is discrimination. This is racism. It’s illegal to ban people’s flags.
“The Russian empire has had its flag banned. Well guess what Tennis Australia? Good luck when the empire strikes back.”
Featured Image Credit: Twitter/@ukrtennis_eng/YouTube/Simeon Boikov
Topics: Australia, Australian Open, Tennis, Novak Djokovic, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia