Outrage after Novak Djokovic’s dad posed with fans wearing Putin’s ‘Z’ symbol and allegedly said ‘long live the Russians’ in Serbian – as Ukraine calls for him to be banned
- Ukraine ambassador has called for Srdjan Djokovic to be banned
- He joined flag-waving pro-Putin Russian fans at the Australia Open
- The tournament favourite’s father has been warned about his conduct
Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia has demanded Novak Djokovic’s father be banned from the Australian Open after he posed for photos with fans waving Russian flags which are banned from the tournament.
Srdjan Djokovic was seen on video posing with fans waving Russian flags emblazoned with President Vladimir Putin’s face on the steps of Rod Laver Arena.
He was standing next to one fan wearing a t-shirt with the Z symbol of the Russian military and appears to tell him in Serbian: ‘Long live the Russians.’
The star’s father was warned over his conduct by Tennis Australia bosses, but Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko has demanded he be banned from attending the Open and branded the incident ‘such a disgrace.’
Novak Djokovic’s father Srdjan is seen in footage with a Russian flag at the Australian Open
Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic (left) with father Srdjan. After watching his son’s quarter-final win at the Australian Open he was seen posing with a Russian flag featuring Vladimir Putin’s face
He wants Djokovic’s father kicked out of the tournament, and at least the player’s box, with an apology from his grand slam legend son.
‘It’s up to Tennis Australia to take action,’ he told the Herald Sun. ‘It would be a very good idea not to let him in.
‘I don’t know why he would say something like that considering what the Russians are doing in Ukraine, how many people they have killed, tortured, raped and all the summary executions that have happened against civilians.’
He said allowing Djokovic’s father to sit in the high-profile player’s box for Friday night’s semi-final against Tommy Paul would send the world the wrong message.
The call for a ban was backed by Stefan Romaniw, co-chair of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations.
‘Tennis Australia must show it is strong and principled and revoke his accreditation and force him to leave,’ he said.
‘Tennis Australia evicted others who flaunted the ban. Why a distinction here?’
Video revealing the controversial moment emerged on a pro-Russia YouTube channel.
A fan at the Australian Open was seen wearing Russia’s ultra-nationalist ‘Z’ war symbol
Soon after the Serbian star reached the semi-finals on Thursday night, his father mingled with fans declaring their support for Russia. Serbia and Russia are longstanding geo-political and military allies.
Police and Tennis Australia later confirmed that four spectators were evicted from Melbourne Park.
Australian Open entry rules forbid any flags in support of Russia or Belarus due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, while Ukrainian players are permitted to play under their national flag.
A video posted on YouTube shows Srdjan posing alongside the flag and a sympathiser who shouts ‘Long Live Russia!’
Srdjan is shown being warmly greeted by his son’s fans and then appears to say something supportive before moving on.
Srdjan was outspoken last year when his son was prevented from playing in the Australian Open and deported from the country for not having a Covid vaccine.
He accused Australia of trying to ‘assassinate’ his superstar son.
The player himself has tried to avoid controversy since arriving in Australia to focus on his title efforts.
On Wednesday he could be seen signing an autograph for a man who had earlier been seen wearing aT-shirt with the Z logo being used by Russian forces in Ukraine.
Srdjan Djokovic and wife Dijana watch Novak during his quarter-final win over Andrey Rublev on Wednesday
A group of fans chanted ‘Russia, Serbia’ in a reminder of the two countries’ close cultural ties
‘A small group of people displayed inappropriate flags and symbols and threatened security guards following a match on Wednesday night and were evicted,’ a Tennis Australia statement read.
‘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.’
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