© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Serbian tennis participant Novak Djokovic’s father Srdjan and brother Djordje attend a information convention in Belgrade, Serbia, January 10, 2022. REUTERS/Zorana Jevtic
By Alasdair Pal
SYDNEY (Reuters) -Novak Djokovic’s father Srdjan mentioned on Friday he wouldn’t attend his son’s Australian Open semi-final and would as an alternative “watch from house”, after a video emerged exhibiting him posing at Melbourne Park with followers holding Russian flags.
The video brought on controversy in Australia, resulting in the nation’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Friday reiterating Australian help for Ukraine and criticising supporters of Russia’s invasion.
“I’m right here to help my son solely. I had no intention of inflicting such headlines or disruption,” Srdjan Djokovic mentioned in an emailed assertion.
“So there isn’t a disruption to tonight’s semi-final for my son or for the opposite participant, I’ve chosen to look at from house.”
Novak Djokovic declined to remark.
“I’ll make this level, that Australia stands with the individuals of Ukraine,” Albanese informed a information convention after a reporter requested if Srdjan Djokovic ought to be deported after he was seen posing for photos with followers holding Russian flags.
“That’s Australia’s place and Australia is unequivocal in our help for the rule of worldwide legislation.
“We don’t need to see any help given to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that’s having a devastating impression on the individuals of Ukraine.”
Albanese didn’t reply on to the query about whether or not Srdjan Djokovic ought to be deported.
Police questioned 4 followers seen with “inappropriate flags and symbols” after a quarter-final match on Wednesday between Russia’s Andrey Rublev and favorite Djokovic, organisers Tennis Australia mentioned.
The Serbian participant, who was on the centre of a storm of controversy over his COVID-19 vaccination standing ultimately yr’s Australian Open, has not commented on the incident and his spokesman didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.
A video emerged on social media confirmed a fan on the steps of Rod Laver Area holding up a Russian flag with the picture of President Vladimir Putin on it.
Pictures additionally confirmed one fan with a big “Z” on his shirt. Russian forces have used the letter as an figuring out image on their automobiles in Ukraine following their invasion. Some supporters of the invasion have additionally used the signal.
Srdjan Djokovic was seen in some posts posing with the Russian supporters.
Australian Open organisers on Thursday issued a reminder to gamers and their entourages about their coverage on flags after the video of Djokovic’s father emerged.
On Friday, Tennis Australia mentioned they “proceed to attempt for the protection of followers on the occasion and reiterate our place banning flags from Belarus and Russia”.
Russian and Belarusian athletes are capable of compete as particular person athletes with out nationwide affiliation on the Australian Open, although their flags are banned from the event grounds after a grievance by Ukraine’s ambassador final week.
Djokovic was deported on the eve of the event final yr for not being vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19 and acquired a three-year Australian journey ban.
That ban was rescinded in November, permitting him to compete this yr.
Djokovic will proceed his bid for a record-extending tenth Australian Open title and twenty second Grand Slam crown to match Rafa Nadal when he takes on unseeded American Tommy Paul of their semi-final in a while Friday.