Blamed for pro-Russian attitudes, Novak Djokovic’s father announces that he will not attend his son’s semi-final
Astonishing controversy at the Australian Open tennis. Srdjan Djokovic announced on Friday that he would give up attending his son Novak’s next match after having suffered numerous criticisms of his actions in recent days.
“I am only here to support my son. I didn’t mean to make headlines or cause any disruption (…) So that there is no disruption during the semi-final for my son or his opponent, I chose to watch the match from home.wrote Srdjan Djokovic in a press release of which Agence France-Presse obtained a copy.
A video posted on a pro-Russian Australian YouTube account on Thursday showed Srdjan Djokovic posing outside the stadium with a man holding a Russian flag with President Vladimir Putin’s face on it. The man was dressed in a T-shirt bearing the Russian pro-war symbol « Z ».
The Ukrainian ambassador in Canberra, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, had demanded that the organizers of the competition withdraw the accreditation of Srdjan Djokovic, after the broadcast of the video. Mr Myroshnychenko also called on Novak Djokovic, who is preparing to face American Tommy Paul in the semi-finals of the tournament, to personally apologize and clarify his position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “It is important that Novak addresses this situation”he insisted. “He should apologize for what happened and condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. »
Last week, Ambassador Myroshnychenko helped persuade Australian Open organizers to ban Russian and Belarusian flags from the stands during the tournament. The Russian Embassy in Australia called the ban a “new example of unacceptable politicization of sport”.
Former Ukrainian player Alex Dolgopolov, who is currently fighting with his country’s army, called Djokovic father’s behavior on Twitter a“absolutely disgusting”. He is “very upsetting” to see Novak Djokovic’s father alongside supporters waving pro-Russian flags, Ukrainian tennis player Marta Kostyuk reacted to the Australian Open on Friday. “It doesn’t matter who you are, no one has the right” to wave those flags,” said Kostyuk, 20, speaking after losing the women’s doubles semi-final. “Things like this can’t stay in the shadows”she insisted. “It’s very upsetting. »
On Wednesday night, a group of Russian fans defied the ban at Melbourne Park, even chanting pro-Russian and pro-Putin slogans at the top of their voices. Simeon Boikov, an Australian pro-Putin activist behind the YouTube video, had urged Russian fans to descend near the stadium where the tournament is taking place ahead of Djokovic’s quarter-final match against Andrey Rublev on Wednesday. “Now it’s about honor and dignity. It is an attack on honor and dignity. It has nothing to do with the war”he said in a video message, apparently in reference to the ban on Russian flags.