Novak Djokovic’s father, Srdjan, didn’t attend his son’s victory in the semifinals of the Australian Open on Friday. Srdjan Djokovic was seen posing with spectators that brought in banned Russian flags to Melbourne Park earlier in the week.
According to the Associated Press, Srdjan Djokovic released a statement saying that he wouldn’t be in attendance, “so there is no disruption.” Novak Djokovic ended up defeating Tommy Paul 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 in order to advance to the men’s singles final, which will be played on Sunday.
Following the semifinal win, Novak Djokovic came to his father’s defense by saying he had “absolutely no intention whatsoever to support any kind of war initiatives or anything like that” and that he was sorry that the situation “escalated so much.” He also stated that he wasn’t sure if his father would be in attendance for Sunday’s final.
“Throughout the event, we’ve spoken with players and their teams about the importance of not engaging in any activity that causes distress or disruption,” Tennis Australia said in a statement following the situation involving Srdjan Djokovic. “We will continue to strive for the safety of fans at the event and reiterate our position banning flags from Belarus and Russia. Tennis Australia stands with the call for peace and an end to war and violent conflict in Ukraine.”
During Djokovic’s quarterfinal match against Russia’s Andrey Rublev, Srdjan Djokovic could be seen standing with a group that was waving Russian flags outside of the main stadium. One of those men was showing a photo of Vladimir Putin.
Four people were kicked out of the Grand Slam tournament for bringing in a Russian flag and for threatening security guards, according to police.
This comes after Tennis Australia changed their policy of allowing spectators to display flags of various countries at Melbourne Park. On Jan. 17, Tennis Australia announced that fans aren’t permitted to bring in Russian and Belarusian flags in the wake of Russia’s war with Ukraine.
Over the last year, Russian and Belarusian athletes were banned from competing altogether in events such as the men’s World Cup, Wimbledon, the Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup as a result of the war in Ukraine. Russian and Belarusian players were allowed to participate in the Australian Open, French Open and US Open, but must do so as “neutral athletes.”