The Australian Open told CNN it has “briefed and reminded” players and their entourages about the tournament’s “policy regarding flags and symbols” on Thursday after video emerged on Wednesday of Novak Djokovic’s father, Srdjan, pictured at a demonstration with fans holding Russian flags, voicing his support for Russia.
In a video posted on YouTube by a known Vladimir Putin supporter, Srdjan Djokovic can be seen posing with a fan outside Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena. The man is wearing the “Z” symbol on his shirt, while holding a Russian flag with Putin’s face on it. “Long live the Russia,” he says.
The “Z” symbol is viewed as a sign of support for Russia, including its invasion of Ukraine. The symbol has been seen on Russian equipment and clothing in Ukraine.
CNN has reached out to both Novak and Srdjan Djokovic for comment.
“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 told CNN Thursday.
“We continue to work closely with event security and law enforcement agencies.”
The Australian Open spokesperson went on to say “a small group of people displayed inappropriate flags and symbols and threatened security guards following a match on Wednesday night and were evicted. One patron is now assisting police with unrelated matters.”
Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia on Friday urged the tennis star to state his position on the war, saying the incident amounted to a “provocation” and “shines a negative light on Novak himself as he prepares for his semi-final.”
“I think for him to dispel the speculation it’s important to make a very strong statement about where he stands on this war, and I would like to see an apology from Novak Djokovic,” Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko told CNN.
“Of course, the son cannot be responsible for the sins of his father, but maybe he has the same opinion as his father. I think the world should know where he stands.”
Tennis Australia has confirmed that four people were ejected from the tournament on Wednesday for displaying pro-war imagery.
According to the Australian Open rules Russian and Belarusian flags are banned from the event.
Tennis Australia has a “neutral flag” policy and has re-emphasized it policy amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.