According to reports from Melbourne, Russian fans have been banned from flying their national flag at the Australian Open.
The fans disrupted Novak Djokovic’s match against Russia’s Andrey Rublev, despite the former world No. 1 making quick work of the world No. 6.
Victoria police questioned four fans at the Australian Open tennis court on Wednesday after they hung Russian flags, including one featuring the face of Vladimir Putin.
It was also reported that the group of fans threatened the security personnel.
Fans on the steps outside Rod Laver Arena attended Russian fifth seed Rublev’s quarter-final loss to Djokovic at Melbourne Park, Australian newspapers The Age and Herald Sun reported.
Djokovic’s 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Rublev on the steps outside Center Court was filmed by a handful of fans and media.
“Four people left the stadium holding inappropriate flags and signs and threatening security staff,” a spokesman for organizers Tennis Australia told newspapers.
“Victoria Police intervened and continued to question them. Everyone’s comfort and safety is our priority and we work closely with security and authorities.
Reporters have contacted Tennis Australia for comment and await a response from organizers.
The footage, posted online and widely circulated, shows at least one man holding a Russian flag emblazoned with President Vladimir Putin’s face on some steps.
Journalist Tumaini Karayol was one of those who shot a short video of the supporters and the flag display.
Just after filing, they walked around Melbourne Park and some people stood on the steps of Rod Laver Arena, holding a flag with Vladimir Putin’s face and supporting Russia. pic.twitter.com/2p0LfkyVC3
– Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) January 25, 2023
At the Grand Slam, spectators are prohibited from displaying Russian or Belarusian flags.
This decision was taken after the Ukrainian ambassador appeared in the crowd last week demanding action.
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian and Belarusian players will compete under a neutral white flag, as is the case at the Australian Open.
Melbourne park rangers have now been handed leaflets containing a growing variety of banned Russian flags and symbols.
One of the fans was seen taking off his jacket to reveal a t-shirt with the letter Z on it.
The letter Z is associated with the feeling of war in Russia and among its supporters abroad.
Rublev has made his anti-war sentiments clear but his match seems like the perfect stage for them to display.
Wimbledon also hopes to lift the ban on players from Russia and Belarus.
“The last information I heard was maybe a week ago that the announcement would be in two weeks. We are all waiting. Hopefully we can play. I wish, I want, I love to play,” Rublev said on Wednesday.