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Novak Djokovic's dad poses with Russian flags at pro-Putin rally during Australian Open

Max Sherry

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| Last updated 

Novak Djokovic's dad poses with Russian flags at pro-Putin rally during Australian Open

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'.

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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.

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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.

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“It’s such a disgrace... @TennisAustralia @AustralianOpen.”

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.

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"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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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

Max Sherry
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