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Novak Djokovic’s dad, Srdjan, was filmed posing with fans holding a Russian flag at the Australian Open shortly after his son punched his ticket to the semi-final with a straight-set win over Russian Andrey Rublev.
A group of fans held up Russian flags, which are banned at the tournament, outside of the arena following the match. Russian supporters chanted pro-Russian and pro-Putin slogans, and the video shows Srdjan Djokovic posing with a man holding a Russian flag with Vladimir Putin’s face plastered on the front of it.
The man holding the Russian-Putin flag Djokovic’s father stands next to is wearing a t-shirt with a ‘Z’ on it, which is the symbol supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A lengthier version of the video was shared to a pro-Russian YouTube channel titled ‘Novak Djokovic’s father makes bold political statement.’
Ahead of the Djokovic-Rublev match, Simeon Boikov, who runs the YouTube channel that posted the footage, urged Russian supporters to descend on Melbourne Park to protest the flag ban.
“This is about honor and dignity now. This is an attack on honor and dignity. This has got nothing to do with the war,” he said in a video message, according to Yahoo.
“The Russian empire has had its flag banned,” he added. “Well guess what Tennis Australia? Good luck when the empire strikes back.”
Tennis Australia identified four people who “revealed inappropriate flags and symbols and threatened security guards” and police were called to eject the Russian supporters out of Melbourne Park.
While Djokovic’s father posed with Russian and Putin supporters, his actions and potential political standings don’t align with Novak’s.
Just after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian tennis player Sergi Stakhovsky retired from the sport and joined the Ukrainian Army. Djokovic reached out to Stakhovsky and offered anything to help:
Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris