DThe organizers of the Australian Open have warned tennis players and their teams in Melbourne about the ban on certain flags and symbols after a video caused a sensation on the internet. It stars as Srdjan Djokovic, the Serbian tennis star’s father Novak Djokovicposing with others behind a Russian flag with a portrait of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in Melbourne Park.
Next to him is a man wearing a t-shirt with the Z character on it. The video was published on a Youtube channel and also shared and commented on other social media. It’s supposed to be after Novak Djokovic’s quarter-final match against the Russians Andrei Rublev to have been recorded on Wednesday evening.
“Players and their teams have been briefed on event guidelines regarding flags and symbols and reminded to avoid any situations that have the potential for disruption,” Tennis Australia said in a statement on Thursday.
After the match, four spectators were interrogated by Australian police for “displaying inappropriate flags and symbols and threatening security personnel,” the organizer said. Twitter posts show several spectators waving Russian and Serbian flags after the match and chanting “Serbia! Russia!” shouted.
Vasyl Miroshnychenko, the Ambassador of Ukraine to Australia, tweeted: “It’s such a shame.” Shortly after the start of the tournament, Russian and Belarusian flags were on the grounds of the Melbourne parks have been banned.
During the match, a fan in a T-shirt with a white “Z” on it appeared in the stands. The “Z” symbol is considered a sign of support for Russia, including the invasion of Ukraine. The “Z” is often seen on Russian military gear and clothing, and is also banned at the Australian Open.
Unlike Wimbledon, Russian and Belarusian tennis players are allowed to start under a neutral flag in Melbourne. Aryna Sabalenka and Viktoria Azarenka of Belarus will compete in their semi-final matches on Thursday.
Jelena Rybakina, who was born in Moscow but now plays for Kazakhstan, is also in the semi-finals. For men, Russian Karen Khachanov will meet Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas in the round of the top four players on Friday.