UPDATE: British former player and Nine commentator Sam Smith says Novak Djokovic must be “devastated” by the “horrible” photos of his father with Putin supporters.
Srdjan Djokovic was filmed saying a phrase in Serbian that has widely been interpreted as “long live the Russians” alongside fans who were flying banned Russian flags, including one with Putin’s face on it at the Australian Open.
Ukraine’s most senior representative in Australia called on the tournament to ban the world No.4’s dad from attending the tournament and also asked for Djokovic himself to detail his thoughts on Russia’s invasion.
LIVE UPDATES: Australian Open day 12
READ MORE: Beaten star bristles at Djokovic question
READ MORE: Sabalenka verging on strange slam first
READ MORE: Surprise move to solve major Bulldogs issue
“The fact that the father of the most famous tennis player in the world is supporting Putin, it’s not good. It doesn’t look good [for Novak] either,” the ambassador told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. “He has to address this question.”
The Victorian opposition has pounced on the issue and called on the state government to act.
Former tennis player and now Shadow Victorian Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major events, Sam Groth, released a statement on Twitter, posting a thread that said: “Acts of incitement have no place in our state and no place at our major events.
Watch the Australian Open live and free on the Nine Network: Channel 9, 9Gem and 9NOW.
“The Australian Open must be a welcoming, safe and inclusive event for all, not an opportunity to express a harmful and offensive agenda or deliberately intimidate others.
“Melbourne and Victoria are on the world’s stage and our reputation as a major events capital is on the line. It isn’t good enough for the State Government to avoid responsibility and buck pass to others.
“The State Government and event organisers must today explain what actions they are taking to put an end to these unacceptable behaviours.”
Speaking on Nine’s Today Extra, meanwhile, Smith said she was “absolutely appalled” by the vision featuring Djokovic’s father.
“It detracts from everything this tournament is trying to do and [now] we are not talking about the tennis. Novak must be devastated because it is just another thing he has to deal with,” Smith said.
“I was was just so appalled to see that footage this morning. Maybe Novak’s father Srdjan wasn’t thinking, but he is part of the Novak Djokovic team and you have to be switched on every minute of your day and night because of the world that we live in now, and people can take advantage of you.
“Maybe that is what happened, I don’t know. But it was horrible.”
In the video uploaded to YouTube, The man holding one of the flags is also wearing a t-shirt with a ‘Z’ emblazoned on it – a symbol that has been used as an intimidation tactic against those who oppose the conflict in Ukraine.
In the vision Djokovic’s father walks off, then another person can be heard saying “long live Russia” in Serbian. The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald have had the comments translated to English.
Russian flags and other items bearing Russian or Belarusian symbols are banned at Melbourne Park following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“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,” an Australian Open spokesperson said.
During Djokovic’s win over Russian opponent Rublev, one man in the stands was spotted taking off a layer of clothing to reveal a shirt with the prohibited ‘Z’ symbol.
The man was seen covering his shirt with a jacket after being spoken to by an Australian Open official – but was not expelled from the stadium.
After the match Djokovic unwittingly signed another banned shirt held out by the same fan.
Ukrainian former world No.20 Alexandr Dolgopolov – who has returned to Ukraine to fight in the war with Russia – called for a life ban for the fan.
He also called out Djokovic senior for the “disgusting” incident.
- ‹ Previous Article
- Next Article›
- IOC rejects calls to ban Russia from Paris Games
- The Montana Housing Partnership is excited to invite you to the 2023 annual housing conference – May 15-17, 2023 – Helena.